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Your Brain on My Mind July 13, 2011

Posted by Nancy Hepp in Newsletter introductions.
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Elise Miller, MEd, Director

A virtual flood of new studies on cognitive function influenced by air pollution, second-hand smoke, nutrition and other environmental factors has been published in the last couple weeks. One notable study on autism by researchers at UCSF and Stanford suggests that environmental conditions may contribute as much to autism as genetic heritability (Read more). Given that autism has long been considered almost exclusively “genetic”, this research will likely have a profound impact on how scientists, health professionals and parents think about how autism may occur in some individuals and not in others and why the numbers of those diagnosed with autism is significantly increasing.

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Our Health and the Health of the Environment: How Are They Connected? What Can We Do to Improve Both? August 23, 2005

Posted by Nancy Hepp in Uncategorized.
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The CHE Public Policy Primer

Webster’s defines a primer as a book of elementary principles or a book for teaching children how to read. The new CHE primer Our Health and the Health of the Environment: How Are They Connected? What Can We Do To Improve Both? aims at providing its readers with some elemental principles of environmental health.

Through the examples of asthma, learning disabilities and breast cancer, the primer explains what we are learning about the links between chronic illness, toxic chemicals and other environmental contaminants. The primer also gives examples of legislative and corporate policies aimed at improving our health and the health of the environment.

CHE Partners are encouraged to use the primer as part of discussions with elected officials or those running for public office. Printed copies are available free from CHE or a PDF version of primer may be downloaded.

The Cases of Asthma, Learning Disabilities and Breast Cancer

Policies That Phase Out and Replace Chemicals With Safer Alternatives

Policies to Expand the Use of Health Tracking and Biomonitoring

Policies that Use Precaution to Make Decisions

Purchasing for Environmental Health

Creating a Chemicals Policy

Policies Championed by CHE Partners

Synergistic Effects of Toxic Metals (Mercury, Lead, Aluminum) Are Extreme July 12, 2005

Posted by Nancy Hepp in Uncategorized.
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Bernard Windham, MD

Mercury and lead are extremely neurotoxic and cytotoxic, but their combined synergistic effect is much worse. A dose of mercury sufficient to kill 1% of tested rats, when combined with a dose of lead sufficient to kill less than 1% of rats, resulted in killing 100% of rats tested(1). Thus with combined exposure, the safe dose is 1/100 as much as the dose individually. Studies in Australia have confirmed similar relationships hold for people. This means most people in the US are getting dangerous levels of these metals, enough to cause some neurologic effects.

Similar is true for synergistic effect with other toxic metals like arsenic, and with other toxic chemicals like PCBs(2). The level of mercury thimerosal in vaccines has been shown to be highly neurotoxic, but the effect was found to be much larger due to the synergistic effect with aluminum, which is also in most vaccines(3). Studies using US CDC data have found thimerosal from vaccines to be major factors in autism and ADHD(4), along with prenatal rhogam shots which contain high levels of mercury thimerosal and are given to some RH negative women during pregnancy.

Autism has increased in the US more than 10-fold in the last decade. According to the Florida Department of Education, the numbers increased from approximately 300 to over 4000 during this time period. There have likewise been large increases in the number of children with ADHD and other developmental conditions, according to the National Academy of Sciences and other sources. A major factor in this appears to be the large increase in vaccinations given to infants. (more documentation is available at the childrens neurological page, www.home.earthlink.net/~berniew1/indexk.html)

There was an increase of over 45% in learning disabilities in Pennsylvania between 1990 and 2000(5). But the study showed that the county highest on the Chemical Pollution Scorecard, Montgomery, had an increase more than double that of the rest of the state. Montgomery County had an increase in ADHD of 32.7% and an increase in autism of 310%.

ps. note that a high percentage of Gulf state residents have been documented to have high levels of mercury exposure (Mobile Register study, www.home.earthlink.net/~berniew1/flhg.html)


1. Schubert J, Riley EJ, Tyler SA. Combined effects in toxicology. A rapid systematic testing procedure: cadmium, mercury, and lead. Toxicol Environ Health 1978;4(5/6):763-776.

2. Philippe Grandjean P, White RF et al. Neurobehavioral deficits associated with PCB in 7-year-old children prenatally exposed to seafood neurotoxicants. Neurotoxicology and Teratology 2001;223(4):305-317.

3. Haley, BE, Pendergrass JC, Lovell, M, Univ. of Kentucky Chemistry Dept., paper presented to the Institute of Medicine Immunization Safety Review Committee, Spring 2001, and on medical lab website, www.altcorp.com

4. Pennsylvania Dept. of Education, 2003, Study of learning disability incidence in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 1990 and 2000; & ” Polluting Our Future: Chemical Emissions in the U.S. that Affect Child Development and Learning,” by Physicians For Social Responsibility, at (202) 898-0150, psrnatl@psr.org

5. Geier M.R., Geier DA; Thimerosal in Childhood Vaccines, Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and Heart Disease in the U.S. ; J of Amer Physicians and Surgeons, Vol 8(1), Spring 2003; & Bradstreet J, Geier DA, et al, A case control study of mercury burden in children with Autisitic Spectrum Disorders, J of Amer Physicians and Surgeons, Vol 8(3), Summer 2003.

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