Respectful Insolence

Rain man? Or: Does rainfall cause autism?

I guess Barack Obama’s mad hypnotic powers worked.

One non-political thing that this election has reminded me of is that when you’ve been blogging as long as I have (nearly four years now–almost as long as a Presidential term!–assuming you’re good and have found a niche in the blogosphere, you can become one of the “go-to” bloggers for certain subjects. Even though I’ve taken on the pseudonym (and, some might say, the persona) of a cranky talking computer with a bad attitude that looked like a cheap Plexiglas box of multicolored blinking lights and was featured in a 30 year old British science fiction series that was known for its fantastic plots but BBC-level low budget sets recycled from old Doctor Who episodes, in person I’m nowhere near as arrogant as my namesake, who was known for his amazing feats of condescension towards his human owners. On the other hand, I do realize that I’m quite a good blogger and writer. I also realize that I’ve occupied a certain niche in the medical and skeptical blogosphere that’s remained fairly unique even now, covering medicine, science, skepticism, and even Holocaust denial.

Into this rather strange mix that, oddly enough, has held together over the years, is an interest in the cult of antivaccinationism (these days led by that ex-Playmate, former gross-out comedienne Jenny McCarthy) that believes that somehow, someway, mercury in vaccines causes autism or vaccines themselves cause autism. This belief persists despite virtually no scientific support and against multiple lines of evidence, including large epidemiological studies, that have looked for and utterly failed to find a detectable correlation between either mercury in vaccines and autism or between vaccines in general and autism. An unexpected development of my interest in antivaccine lunacy and the quackery that flows from that lunacy has been an interest in the science of autism and what causes the condition. Consequently, one of the topics for which I’ve become a “go-to” blogger is dubious autism science.

So it came as no surprise that a number of my readers have e-mailed me about a story about a rather odd little study about autism. Actually, it was a bit of a surprise when the first e-mail arrived, mainly because I hadn’t known that this study was in the pipeline or that it had been published, but soon I became aware that David Kirby was using it as “exoneration” and my usual sources started to weigh in. To some extent I was blindsided on this one, but I quick. So what is this story that’s buried my e-mail in box under, oh, around a dozen e-mails or so? (Hey, this isn’t Pharyngula, you know. I don’t get hundreds of e-mails about anything.)

There were stories in USA Today and MSNBC about a study that concluded that rain causes autism.

OK, that’s not really what the study claims to have found. In fact, the authors were pretty conservative about drawing inferences. However, it did claim to find a correlation between precipitation rates and autism prevalence on the Pacific Coast. The study, published in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine by investigators whose lead author is Dr. Michael Waldman of Cornell University and with collaborations with investigators at Purdue University, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Paul Offit must be having kiniptions over this) and entitled Autism Prevalence and Precipitation Rates in California, Oregon, and Washington Counties. This study purports to provide evidence that autism prevalence is associated with precipitation. It seems to show just such a correlation, but there are a number of reasons to be very skeptical of the conclusions being drawn from this study, not the least of which are the uses to which mercury militia apologist puts it.

Besides looking at this study as a case study for the truism that correlation does not equal causation, something I want to scream at the top of my lungs when I read a study like this. The other thing that I always look at (and you should too) is the underlying hypothesis of the study:

Similarly, in the recent CDC study of autism prevalence mentioned previously, the highest autism prevalence among the 14 states studied was found in New Jersey, the second-most-northern state in the study, whereas the lowest autism prevalence was found in Alabama, the most southern state in the study.

This pattern suggests a hypothesis: namely, that there is an environmental trigger for autism among genetically vulnerable children that is correlated with bad weather, possibly because the environmental trigger is associated with indoor activities. We explore this hypothesis by empirically investigating the association between autism prevalence and precipitation rates.

This is a tad disingenuous. In reality, this study is an outgrowth of the infamous “television causes autism” study, which started with a dubious hypothesis and ran with it right into the ground. Such a hypothesis is so dubious on a strictly scientific basis, based on what we know about the biology of autism, that it would take an incredible amount of evidence to validate it. The current study resurrects some of the more pithy comments directed at the television study about the strange things that can happen when economists and management faculty apply their methodology to epidemiology and medicine. More importantly, when looking at this study, I ask why: Why do the investigators think that precipitation levels would correlate with autism prevalence? One potential reason is that increased precipitation leads to more time indoors, which could correlate with decreased vitamin D levels, which could be a “trigger” for autism. Fair enough, as far as it goes, but there are quite a few links in the proposed chain of causation, and the more links there are the more tenuous the link between the first link and the last link in the chain. Moreover, there may be other common factors that confound this proposed correlation by being associated with populations living in areas with more precipitation.

But let’s get to the study itself.

One thing leaped out at me right away, and that’s how the authors correlated precipitation with autism levels. They did not look at raw average precipitation rates. Rather, they invented a variable to correlate to autism rates:

In our tests, we used a relative precipitation variable, which we defined as the difference between the annual precipitation received in a county and the mean precipitation for all counties in the sample. The National Climatic Data Center records daily precipitation at more than 8000 weather stations in the United States. To calculate precipitation in a specific county in a specific year, we first calculated the mean across all weather stations in the county for each day of the year. We added the resulting values from all the days in the year to get the total precipitation, and then calculated mean annual precipitation by county from 1987 through 2001 and for each 3-year interval when the 1987 through 1999 birth cohorts were younger than 3 years. To find relative precipitation levels, we then subtracted the mean annual precipitation level for the counties and years in our sample. The 1987-2001 period spans the dates when children who were school aged in 2005 were younger than 3 years, the time during which autism symptoms emerge and any putative, postnatal factor would be present.

Note that the authors did not correlate autism prevalence directly with raw mean precipitations but instead used a “relative precipitation variable.” When I see something like that, I know right away that there was no correlation between raw mean precipitation levels and autism. If there had been, you can rest assured that the authors would not have bothered to go to the trouble to do this little bit of mathematical legerdemain–excuse me, I mean “transformation.” This is a general principle of epidemiological studies: If there’s a correlation with raw data, then there’s no reason to do any sort of mathematical adjustment. Don’t get me wrong, though. Such transformations are sometimes valid from a statistical standpoint, but such calculated measurements always give me pause when I see them–especially so when no explanation is given for why they are being used or why the authors consider them more valid or useful than using just the untransformed data for their calculations. Such data massaging always sends up red flags.

There are also multiple other flaws with this study:

Remember the study about industrial mercury I blogged about? You know, the one in which it was claimed that proximity to mercury-emitting power plants correlated with autism prevalence? Remember how I emphasized how important it was to control for urbanicity when looking at autism diagnoses because autism diagnoses correlate with more highly urban areas? Guess what? The authors of the current study, although they tried to correlate for household income, didn’t even attempt to control for urbanicity. That alone makes this study highly suspect, at least to me.

Another problem with this study is that it examines only the Pacific Coast, specifically California, Oregon, and Washington. There is no indication that the observations made in this study are generalizable. Sure, you can argue that the study presents a provocative finding, and the authors certainly state that it needs to be followed up on, but it’s still not a comprehensive sampling. Moreover, rainfall can vary considerably from year to year, but autism rates do not. Prevalence may be increasing, largely because of widened diagnostic criteria and diagnostic substitution, but it’s not an increase superimposed on a curve that widely varies from year to year. How can such a hypothesis account for the fact that rainfall in general is not increasing in most places but autism prevalence is?

Of course, what would be interesting about this study if it holds up is what links high levels of rainfall to increased autism prevalence. One potential factor that could link the two is, as the authors mention, vitamin D. However, there is a paucity of data linking any sort of vitamin D deficiency to autism; a lot more data would be needed. Another potential factor is being indoors and exposure to “indoor toxins.” However, there is also a paucity of evidence that anything associated with being indoors correlates with autism. Unfortunately, the authors read far too much into their data:

This study empirically examines the hypothesis that there is an environmental trigger for autism among genetically vulnerable children that is positively associated with precipitation. If there is such an environmental trigger, then the prevalence of autism should be higher in counties that receive abundant precipitation, and especially for birth cohorts that receive above-average precipitation, relative to the county’s average amount, when the cohort was younger than 3 years.

Our results support this hypothesis.

No they do not. I guess that’s what you get when you have economists doing epidemiology about medicine, you get these sorts of “fast and loose” statements about “genetically vulnerable children” when the data didn’t even address the question of genetic susceptibility. It didn’t even have the methodology to do so. Now, It’s possible there may be a genetic susceptibility to autism that is triggered by an environmental factor or factors, but nothing–I repeat, nothing–in this study supports that hypothesis. Measures of genetic susceptibility were not even a part of the study–or even looked at! To use the words “genetic susceptibility” in the conclusions and to say that this study somehow supports an interaction of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors is just plain incorrect.

The problem with this study, unfortunately, is not just how weak it is, how dubious the hypothesis under study is, or how the authors clearly don’t understand the rudiments of genetic susceptibility. Those are all problems, but the big problem with this study is that it’s custom made for cranks. In fact, autism crank numero uno David Kirby has already weighed in on–where else?–The Huffington Post:

A new study out of Cornell University says that children growing up in the rainiest or snowiest areas of the country seem to have a higher risk for autism than children living in drier climates.

The authors estimated that removing precipitation as a factor in autism would slice the prevalence of the disorder by 33% to 43%.

Among the possible explanations given were: A lack of vitamin D from a sun-deprived life under the clouds, an increased amount of time spent indoors amid toxic household chemicals, or the presence of dangerous neurotoxins in the precipitation itself, which in turn might trigger a genetic predisposition to ASD.

One of the most omnipresent, growing (and obvious) air-borne neurotoxins in the world to consider, of course, is mercury.

The desperation is palpable here. As I’ve pointed out before on numerous occasions, epidemiological study after epidemiological study have failed to find even a whisper of a correlation between mercury an autism. Antivaccinationists realize this, too, which is why they have started to grasp at environmental sources of mercury in addition to mercury from vaccines, even to the point of toutting lame studies, such as those of Raymond Palmer. Oh, David Kirby is glib, and he applies his usual twisting of logic, language, and science to try to argue that this study supports his previous fearmongering about mercury, but, let’s face it, these days Kirby is a pathetic character, grasping at any mercury-coated straw he can find in search of vindication of his crankery.

Once again, this study tells me one thing, and should tell you the same: Correlation does not equal causation. If you want to know just how dubious this story is, you should be aware that an editorial was published with the study entitled Precipitation and autism: Do these results warrant publication? In the editorial, Dr. Noel Weiss does backflips with logic trying to say that, yes, this study does warrant publication, all the while slamming it as tentative and not particularly convincing. If I were Dr. Weiss, I’d be embarrassed.

It’s also depressing to see such dubious studies being provided to cranks like David Kirby as a weapon to use against reason.

Comments

  1. #1 Grep Agni
    November 5, 2008

    Huge agreement on urbanicity:

    Similarly, in the recent CDC study of autism prevalence mentioned previously, the highest autism prevalence among the 14 states studied was found in New Jersey, the second-most-northern state in the study, whereas the lowest autism prevalence was found in Alabama, the most southern state in the study.

    New Jersey: ~90% urban
    Total US: 79% Urban
    Alabama: 55% urban

    The latitude seems like a less important variable, especially since New Jersey is the second-most-northern state. I’m guessing the CDC did not make the latitude->autism link in its conclusions.

  2. #2 SC
    November 5, 2008

    (Sorry – I think a Pharyngulink only works in the other direction. ;))

    In addition to the other problems,

    In our tests, we used a relative precipitation variable,…

    I don’t understand how this, without an explicit explanation in the paper, gets through peer review.

  3. #3 John
    November 5, 2008

    I seriously thought someone had forwarded me an article from The Onion when I read about this. I almost choked on my raisin bran.

  4. #4 Mu
    November 5, 2008

    I also like how they consider county wide precipitation an indicator. Living in the desert southwest, my house gets two to three times the “average” county precipitation due to being positioned in foothills. Does that mean I have to move down into the valley to protect my kids now? Also, they picked states with distinct variable climate zones, coastal strip (also happens to be the urbanized area), coastal mountain range, and dry (rural) interior. I’m sure you get more autism diagnoses in San Francisco than in the farming communities of the Central Valley. But if it’s the rain that makes the difference…

  5. #5 Zombie
    November 5, 2008

    The urbanicity problem, or at least something roughly like it in my layman’s brain, is exactly the first thing I thought of when I saw this study.

  6. #6 Christophe Thill
    November 5, 2008

    Well, if you substract the mean from a variable, you don’t change its correlation with another variable that remains unchanged. Correlations are computed based on variances and covariances, which substract the mean in the first place ( E(X-m)², anyone ?). So I wouldn’t call this transformation an attempt to manipulate the data, but just a useless extra step. Or did I miss something ?

  7. #7 The Perky Skeptic
    November 5, 2008

    You’ve made me happier by tackling this article this morning! :) And I was already pretty darn happy!

  8. #8 Shae
    November 5, 2008

    Could mold be the factor?

  9. #9 Orac
    November 5, 2008

    Well, if you substract the mean from a variable, you don’t change its correlation with another variable that remains unchanged. Correlations are computed based on variances and covariances, which substract the mean in the first place ( E(X-m)², anyone ?). So I wouldn’t call this transformation an attempt to manipulate the data, but just a useless extra step. Or did I miss something ?

    Ask yourself why they bothered with this extra useless step.

  10. #10 Scott
    November 5, 2008

    Christophe:

    They’re not subtracting the overall mean, but the mean *for that county*.

  11. #11 Joseph
    November 5, 2008

    See also my analysis. I didn’t even have to adjust for population density. I couldn’t even confirm a naive association.

  12. #12 The Perky Skeptic
    November 5, 2008

    Annnnnnd I just freaked at the Vitamin D possiblility over on Science-based Medicine. (I can has too much coffee.)

    Orac, what do you think of the Vitamin D link? Worth a closer look?

  13. #13 Danimal
    November 5, 2008

    Now didn’t that feel better then posting about politics? Good post.

  14. #14 Prometheus
    November 5, 2008

    I’m curious how they accounted for the monotonic rise in autism prevalence over the past 15 years when the rainfall for the Pacific coast has fluctuated between wetter than normal and drier than normal at least twice since 1998?

    Also, how do the explain that Oregon, even west of the Cascade range, is drier than Washington (and wetter than California) and yet has three times the autism prevalence of either state?

    The “average of all the counties in the state” transformation is how they get around “inconvenient truths” like this.

    In short, as Orac said, this study is a textbook example of how you can find a statistically significant correlation between any two variables if you squeeze the data hard enough.

    Prometheus

  15. #15 Rose
    November 5, 2008

    I don’t understand why nobody is talking about the possibility that it could be that the autistic children are actually *causing* the higher precipitation with their mind-powers! After all, they only found a correlation, the causation could go either way!

  16. #16 I am so wise
    November 5, 2008

    In the movie “The Business of Being Born” one of Ricki Lake’s sources, Mardsen Wagner, lets loose and links autism to c-sections.

  17. #17 Dave Ruddell
    November 5, 2008

    Rose wins the thread!

  18. #18 HCN
    November 5, 2008

    I do not have access to the full paper, so I have to ask these questions:

    Do either Grays Harbor County (Aberdeen, WA) and Clallam County (Forks, WA — which is where the young adult vampire books, http://www.amazon.com/Twilight-Collectors-Saga-Stephenie-Meyer/dp/0316033413/ , are located) have more autism than either King County (Seattle, WA) or Pierce County (Tacoma, WA)? What are the relative numbers of autism between Ferry County and Kittatas County?

    Is the level of autism similar between Yakima, WA and Bend, OR? (both in high deserts with similar populations)

    There is a real temperate rain forest on the peninsula because the Olympic Mountains catch all the rain, which is why Seattle is drier than Forks. Also, a good chunk of both Washington and Oregon are deserts. Those also happen to be where there is more agriculture, less industry and smaller cities (Spokane is the largest). Is there a stronger correlation between density and relative wealth between the counties?

  19. #19 Marilyn Mann
    November 5, 2008

    Cannell, Autism and Vitamin D, Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 70, Issue 4, 750-759 (2008).

    Summary
    Any theory of autism’s etiology must take into account its strong genetic basis while explaining its striking epidemiology. The apparent increase in the prevalence of autism over the last 20 years corresponds with increasing medical advice to avoid the sun, advice that has probably lowered vitamin D levels and would theoretically greatly lower activated vitamin D (calcitriol) levels in developing brains. Animal data has repeatedly shown that severe vitamin D deficiency during gestation dysregulates dozens of proteins involved in brain development and leads to rat pups with increased brain size and enlarged ventricles, abnormalities similar to those found in autistic children. Children with the Williams Syndrome, who can have greatly elevated calcitriol levels in early infancy, usually have phenotypes that are the opposite of autism. Children with vitamin D deficient rickets have several autistic markers that apparently disappear with high-dose vitamin D treatment. Estrogen and testosterone have very different effects on calcitriol’s metabolism, differences that may explain the striking male/female sex ratios in autism. Calcitriol down-regulates production of inflammatory cytokines in the brain, cytokines that have been associated with autism. Consumption of vitamin D containing fish during pregnancy reduces autistic symptoms in offspring. Autism is more common in areas of impaired UVB penetration such as poleward latitudes, urban areas, areas with high air pollution, and areas of high precipitation. Autism is more common in dark-skinned persons and severe maternal vitamin D deficiency is exceptionally common the dark-skinned. Conclusion: simple Gaussian distributions of the enzyme that activates neural calcitriol combined with widespread gestational and/or early childhood vitamin D deficiency may explain both the genetics and epidemiology of autism. If so, much of the disease is iatrogenic, brought on by medical advice to avoid the sun. Several types of studies could easily test the theory.

    http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/S0306-9877(07)00537-3/abstract

    I’m posting the above for purposes of discussion. I have no, repeat no, opinion on whether there is a link between vitamin D levels and autism.

  20. #20 notmercury
    November 5, 2008

    Marylin,
    John Cannell thinks Vit D is the answer to just about any disorder including cancer.
    http://www.tanformation.com/forums/showthread.php?t=29775

    “As I’ve said before, if I had cancer, I’d take 5,000 IU of vitamin D every day in the colder months. In the warmer months, I’d stop the vitamin D and get a safe amount of noontime sunshine. I’d keep my 25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels between 50 and 70 ng/ml, year around. However, I do that now and I’ve not been diagnosed with cancer.

    Hypotheses aside, has he presented anything like a plausible biological mechanism? I may have missed it if he has.

  21. #21 Marilyn Mann
    November 5, 2008

    notmercury,

    I assume he discusses biological plausibility in his article. I haven’t read it.

    I’m familiar with his website and his newsletter.

    I believe Orac plans to discuss the evidence on vitamin D and cancer in a future post. I look forward to reading his thoughts.

  22. #22 gary
    November 5, 2008

    This study is further proof that epidemiology is one of the hardest of the sciences to perform correctly. That might not be so bad if it weren’t also one of the most important of the sciences.

  23. #23 Kemist
    November 5, 2008

    For vit. D and cancer :

    hydroxy-vitamin D is a known differentiation agent in-vitro for HL-60 cells (we use it as a positive control along with retinoic acid). I know retinoic acid (vit. A) is used in cancer treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, I don’t know if hydroxyvit. D is used at all in cancer treatment.

    Vit. D is also a pro-hormone (that is, used in the biosynthesis of a hormone) that modulates the immune system with debatable positive or negative effects on cancer rates and/or progression. I would abstain to predict which, keeping in mind the fiasco of antioxidants, and the demonstrated fact that macrophages help breast cancer cells to reach the bloodstream and metastatize. So using something that stimulates phagocytosis to treat an existing cancer may be quite a bad idea.

    However, when anyone starts talking about a product that prevents or cure all cancers, I hear quacking sounds (I have woo-induced tintinus;-).

  24. #24 KristinMH
    November 5, 2008

    I would have picked “Rain Fall-Guy” as the headline myself…

    …also I don’t know a thing about statistics or medicine. It is my [entirely uneducated] opinion, however, that this study is a pile of horse manure. Its authors must have been watching too much House.

  25. #25 JustaTech
    November 5, 2008

    Kemist:
    Interestingly my lab is looking at adding retinoic acid (vit A) to our HIV vaccine strategies because it induces T-cells to home to the lymphoid tissues of the gut. Given some of the things I have read here about gut problems in autistic children, who wants to bet vitamin A will be the next big thing?

  26. #26 notmercury
    November 5, 2008

    Given some of the things I have read here about gut problems in autistic children, who wants to bet vitamin A will be the next big thing?

    Already been/being done by the DAN! quacks, often with disastrous results.

    Interestingly my lab is looking at adding retinoic acid (vit A) to our HIV vaccine strategies because it induces T-cells to home to the lymphoid tissues of the gut.

    cis or trans RA?

  27. #27 jj
    November 5, 2008

    No no, they got this all wrong, it’s autism that cause rain! Autism makes god cry!

  28. #28 Alan Kellogg
    November 5, 2008

    I was living with my family in Southern California or Arizona around three years of age, both locations not notable for precipitation. Unless they include watering the lawn I doubt my example supports their conclusions.

  29. #29 Lucas McCarty
    November 5, 2008

    We only make God cry because we beat him at any Dragonball Z quiz. If he’s omniscient, I’m warm buttery toast.

  30. #30 Kathy
    November 6, 2008

    Did you read Dr. Weiss’s article? Publication of this study is meant to raise the hypothesis among scientists, and encourage further studies. It’s part of the normal epidemiologic discourse — not everything published in peer-reviewed journals is ready for public consumption and policy, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be published in a scientific arena.

  31. #31 Gronk
    November 6, 2008

    Regarding autism and rainfall, I found this paper quite persuasive: http://stephanie-on-health.blogspot.com/2008/11/sunscreen-and-low-fat-diet-recipe-for.html

  32. #32 Kemist
    November 6, 2008

    Already been/being done by the DAN! quacks, often with disastrous results.

    Indeed. For those wondering, vit. A overdoses in children destroy their bone growth centers, effectively stunting their growth forever. Vit. D overdose can cause a swelling of the brain with disastrous consequences.

    I often wonder why these parents accept to submit their children to such drastic treatments as hormonal suppression or liposoluble vitamin overdose, which have such devastating (and permanent!) side-effects that they easily resemble (and go beyond) those of cancer chemotherapy, without any observable benefit. Even if these interventions did something, anything about autism, don’t they balk at the cost for their kids : permanent stunting of growth, often with mishapen limbs, sterility and abnormal sex organ development, brain damage, possibly death ?

  33. #33 eldereft
    November 6, 2008

    What bothers me most about their rainfall variable is that they made their data less useful by averaging it for each year. The various hypotheses discussed all depend on kids spending “too much” time indoors. Number of days spent building box forts instead of grubbing in the dirt will be significantly different for a continual drizzle vs. a few good monsoons, without changing that year’s total rainfall. The vitamin D hypothesis is even worse, since some areas of the left coast have a number of grey-but-not-rainy days (keeping in mind that significant UV exposure can occur under thin clouds).

    Ok, enough griping and nitpicking, time to go do something positive.

  34. #34 puddle jumper
    November 6, 2008

    I can hear worried mothers now, scolding, “Shame on you Muggsly for playing outside in the rain again. Don’t you know you’ll catch autism that way?”

  35. #35 Dr. Val
    November 7, 2008

    So… will parents give their children vaccines now that we’ve determined that rain is the “real cause” of autism? :)

  36. #36 Dr. Val
    November 7, 2008

    So… will parents allow their children to be vaccinated now that we’ve determined that rain is the “real cause” of autism? :)

  37. #37 Harold L Doherty
    November 22, 2008

    “Remember the study about industrial mercury I blogged about? You know, the one in which it was claimed that proximity to mercury-emitting power plants correlated with autism prevalence? Remember how I emphasized how important it was to control for urbanicity when looking at autism diagnoses because autism diagnoses correlate with more highly urban areas?”

    What do you mean by urbanicity?
    Why is it important to “control for urbanicity”?
    Does correlation of urbanicity with autism diagnoses imply a causal relationship with autism?
    If so how?
    If not what does it imply?
    More medical services and therefore more reporting/diagnoses?

  38. #38 Jim Mullowney
    December 21, 2008

    Tell me I’m wrong

    One man’s theory of the destruction of humanity, a theoretical account of the cause of cancer and autism.

    I have been in the environmental disposal field for 20 years, starting out from college as a chemist for a waste disposal firm. I was out of the environmental field for almost 5 years, when I returned to the field in April of 2007, I was confronted with some new questions on how to dispose of some non regulated wastes from hospitals. The waste was mostly un-used pharmaceuticals.

    Upon looking at the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for these materials I was troubled. Over my 20 years in the environmental business I have researched a lot of chemicals for their toxicology and what I discovered this past year terrifies me. An example is a common chemotherapy chemical (drug) Mustargen made by MERCK. On page one of the MSDS it states as a warning:
    May cause cancer
    May cause heritable genetic damage
    May cause harm to the unborn child
    Well at least they can’t say they didn’t tell us.

    I hope that I am wrong and someone smarter than me can disprove my theory, however here it is.:

    Over the last few months I have learned how chemotherapy drugs work, they are chemicals that have one job, they mutate genes, Hence the term, “mutagenic”. Effective because they get into the cells and mutating the DNA to kill the cancer; these drugs are non-dose dependent, which means that the amount you give a patient does not matter, I read that in an article in the August 20th 2007 Chemical and Engineering News.

    These chemicals are administered to the patient in pico gram per liter concentrations. That translates into part per trillion, levels that are given to the patient; they work magnitudes less in the body, at a cellular level. This means that when a gene is mutated and the cell splits in two, the two new cells are mutated also, a.k.a, genetic engineering.

    This is the problem I have: the chemical (drug) is administered to the patient at a level so low that the only way to measure it is by a series of dilutions. What happens to the rest of the chemical? It goes down the drain, into the sewer and septic systems. The waste water treatment plant does not remove the chemical, it cannot kill the chemical, because it is not alive, it is a chemical, a chemical with a job to mutate the human DNA.

    What does this drug do when it enters the water supply? It is not selective, it does not discriminate. It does what it is designed to do which is to mutate genes. In goes into the water system and does its job. It mutates the genes of frogs so they have 5 legs, three eyes, no genitals, there have been many studies on the mutation of lower level planet dwellers what about humans?
    I am not saying that Chemotherapy Chemicals are the only Mutagenic Chemicals, many chemicals have a side effect of being possible Teratogen, or mutagen. I am saying Chemotherapy Chemicals ( Drugs) have only one job and that job is to mutate the genes of humans.

    The disposal of unused drugs is only the tip of the problem. The absorption rate of most drugs is less than 10% and some less than 3% some even lower, so if you are taking chemotherapy most of the drug will pass thru your system and into the toilet, the saliva out of your mouth, or excreted thru your skin or out through your breath.
    Alcohol Breath smells like alcohol, Gasoline smells like Gas, Look up “Chemo Breath” on the internet

    What is happening to the septic systems? Why is the good bacteria, (and bad bacteria), missing? Why are septic maintenance companies finding dead systems? What do they need to do to make them functional again? In August 2007, I was in Concord NH talking to a person that is a regulator of septic systems. I mentioned my theory and he made a disturbing comment. He said that the septic pump maintenance businesses are complaining that some of the systems are being destroyed by the human waste from a chemotherapy patient. The systems need to be rinsed and cleaned out before they will work again. What happens to the Chemo when the septic system fails, you guessed it, right into the well and the ground water.

    Once again the genetically engineered drugs are doing their job.

    Did I mention that these cancer curing drugs are also carcinogens, yes that means they cause cancer, and they are administered to the patient in pico gram per liter quantities. That means very small. (If you stack dollar bills like a deck of cards a trillion of them would reach from Boston to Ohio). That means one of those dollars between Boston and Ohio is a part per trillion. Did I mention these chemicals are non dose dependant. That means it does not matter how much or how little you are exposed to — you are exposed. I found that that information also in Chemical and Engineering News.

    This is where I get very scary.

    In 2002 the US geological survey looked for Pharmaceuticals in ground water; in 80% of the places they looked they found what they were looking for. Granted the levels were low, parts per trillion, pico gram per liter. Do you follow me yet? Part per trillion in ground water, part per trillion administered to cancer patient, mutagenic drug.

    Ok this is the part that will get me knocked off by a Big Pharma lobbyist.

    In November 2007 a study was announced that stated that Autism is a genetic disorder that is not hereditary.

    How do you get a genetic disorder that is not hereditary?

    You mutate the genes.

    How do you mutate genes?

    Chemotherapy Chemicals doing their job.

    We cracked the human genome 10 years ago; we started genetic engineering using designer chemicals to cure diseases, chemicals that are effective at a molecular level. The waste from manufacturing these mutagenic, and teratogenic drugs sent down the drain (mutagenic affects you when you are alive, teratogenic affects you before you are alive, in the womb)

    Autism has increased 10 times in the last 10 years. It now affects 1 in 150 children. I read an article that it affects 1 in 60 in Northern New Jersey. Northern NJ also has the greatest concentration of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in the world.

    Genetic engineering has been growing ten fold and so has Autism, those pesky little chemicals are doing their job, changing DNA to cure cancer. As well as changing the DNA of our Children and our Future.

    Are you scared yet?

    I am

    Ask everyone you know who has an autistic child if someone close to them has had chemotherapy, I have two friends with autistic children, and both had family members undergo chemotherapy before their child was born.

    This is one Chemists Theory

    Jim Mullowney

  39. #39 Chris
    December 21, 2008

    Jim Mullowney said “Tell me I’m wrong”

    We cannot because you only posted a long opinionated screed without any evidence. The plural of anecdote is not data, and nor is a series of paragraphs with guesses, and some of those guesses could be answered with a basic freshman level biology class.

  40. #40 N.C.
    December 21, 2008

    Tell me I’m wrong

    Okay, you’re wrong. Any other services you’d like provided?