Chesapeake PSR

Autism Linked to Particulate Matter Air Pollution

Toxics and HealthTimothy WhitehouseComment

A higher maternal exposure to particulate matter air pollution is associated with greater odds of a child having autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Though genetics play a strong role in autism, this study suggests that environmental exposures, particularly in utero or during early life, increase ASD risk. According to the study, air pollution and airborne particles such as diesel particulate matter have been found to penetrate the sub-cellular level, inducing oxidative distress and mitochondrial damage in vitro.                                         

The study suggests that reducing exposure to particulate matter could lead to lower incidence of ASD. 

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility (Chesapeake PSR) is working to reduce NOx emissions from Maryland coal-fired power plants and to stop Energy Answers' incinerator in Curtis Bay, Maryland. Coal-fired power plants and incinerators are major sources of particulate matter pollution in Maryland.