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Utah’s air pollution and autism: Is there a link?

Standard Examiner – December 11, 2015

SmokeGetsInYourEyesAs Utahns settle uncomfortably into another inversion season, there’s also the usual din of health alarms.

Health professionals are raising concerns not just about what the bad air is doing to our lungs, but also to our brains.

Utah has the second-highest rate of autistic children. Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, worries there might be a link.

“Autism is such a profound tragedy. It’s a personal tragedy as well as a family disruption, given the cost of trying to manage, treat or offer therapy to a person who has autism,” Moench said. “It really does qualify as a public health emergency to find out what’s going on. And I don’t see the state has made any serious effort to look into it.”

A 2014 study by the Utah Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Project (Utah ADDM) found one in 54 Utah children on the autistic spectrum. Nationally, the rate is one in 68. Only New Jersey has higher rates of autistic children.

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