I was browsing through my Internet news sources and came across the following headline: Autism coal link study stalled by government. This was the first time I’d seen news of a study that is researching a possible link between autism and the mercury generated by coal-fired power plants. I’m not just an autism blogger but I’m also an eco-blogger and so coal-fired power plants are something I try to keep up on from a news perspective.
The article appeared in the online edition of The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). Evidently researcher David Austin, director of the Swinburne Autism Bio-Research Initiative requested access to data about the mercury emissions generated by coal-fired power plants for his study and this request was denied.
When Professor Austin requested the information after a review of international scientific literature confirmed ”a mercury-autism relationship”, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs said it could not be released on privacy grounds.
If Austin and his research team receive this data, they can have a completed study done within 12 months. With the increase in autism prevalence rates both in the United States and around the world, one would think that government agencies would be more forthcoming with data such as this.