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QUESTION: Correlation between atmospheric lead pollution and Autism 20 Nov 2008 NSW, Australia

I am particularly interested in any research that may show a correlation between atmospheric lead pollution and Autism spectrum. Thankyou.

ANSWER: 04 Mar 2009

Dear Allen,

We are not aware of any study which has searched for a connection between lead in air and the prevalence of autism in the community. Certainly, all the blood lead surveys ever done find that higher lead in air levels are associated with higher blood lead levels in people of all ages. This was the provocation for removing lead from petrol in the countries where that has occurred.

If you are asking whether research has found a connection between higher blood lead levels and children developing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), then unfortunately, we are not aware of any study which has looked for such an association.

The reason that we set up our (largest) egroup on the subject of Autism and Lead, is to discuss current issues related to the increasing incidence of autism and the potential link between autism and metallothionein dysfunction and excessive lead exposure or exposure to other heavy metals as a trigger for autism.

Secondly, some children on the Spectrum have pica (the tendency to eat non-food items) and this puts them at much greater risk of developing lead poisoning because so many of the non-food items like paint, soil and PVC or painted toys, in a child's environment, contain lead.

If you would like to join the egroup please go to

I have attached a document, which might be useful, correlating autism to metallothionein.


Iman Hegazi, MBBS, MD. Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Volunteer

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