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Research Study Mapping Contaminants Associated with Autism in New Jersey

By Angela Wilson
January 12, 2015 Phone:  551-996-3610
Hackensack, NJ – The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® has published a research study, funded by the CDC, entitled “Mapping Contaminants Associated with Autism: A Public Health Pilot in New Jersey” in the Journal of Geographic Information System.  The publication, for the first time, details New Jersey maps of eight of the most prevalent toxins potentially linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs): arsenic, lead, manganese, mercury, organophosphate pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride.
“In northern NJ, there were approximately 4,600 Known Contaminated Sites of New Jersey (KCSNJ) where these toxins were detected. A total of 269,790 sample detections were identified. Our objective was to identify and map these sites, and identify methods by which more robust contaminant data could be collected and analyzed. This study resulted in eight original maps showing sample detections,” said study leader, Erin Speiser Ihde, MA, CCRP, Research/Project Manager at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®. “These maps will be useful for monitoring and dissemination, as well as for future analyses exploring links between ASDs and these toxins.”
The CDC reports that NJ has the highest prevalence rate of autism among states surveyed, with approximately one in 45 children diagnosed as of 2010. 
This study resulted in eight original maps showing sample detections of contaminants. These maps will aid researchers and public health advocates in future analyses exploring links between autism and these toxins. Concentrations of multiple toxins associated with ASDs were most dense near urban industrial or mixed residential/industrial areas, though no conclusions can be made regarding association or causality between the sample detections and autism. Based in part on this study, NJDEP has made and will continue to make improvements to contaminant data collection systems.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., medical advisor for The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® and principal investigator for the study adds, “This study demonstrates a clear need to further examine the relationship between environmental toxins and the high prevalence of autism in New Jersey."  
The study was completed by The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® in conjunction with the Department of Research, David & Alice Jurist Institute for Research; the Department of Mathematical Sciences, NJ Institute of Technology; and the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute. 
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