Friday, June 8, 2007

Putting Humans into the TTC -- Autism

Putting Humans into the Trans Texas Corridor Discussion

Amidst the various hearings that I have attended concerning either the Trans Texas Corridor of the North Central Texas Council of Governments dealing with the Dallas/ Fort Worth Region segment of the TTC, one factor in all of it has been absent.

Where do the actual people who live in this region actually fit into all the complex formulas and debates?

If demographic predictions are anywhere near correct, there will be about twice the people in this region in about 25 years. Common sense would suggest that absent an effective system of mass transit (light and heavy rails, buses, perhaps even trolleys and subways, etc.) there will be roughly twice as much traffic on the roads. That would mean, absent some extensive technological controls, the amount of airborne pollutants may well double from non-fixed site pollution sources, i.e. vehicles primarily.

Take the impact of airborne pollutants on one particular group of people, those who suffer autism. Researchers studying this population have been brave enough to ask the question, “Does environmental pollution affect or even cause autism?”

Their answer is “Yes.” They do not claim that all autism is caused by pollution; however, they have proven a causal link in a significant number of cases.

Autism in Texas is rising -- between 1992 and 2003 autism cases have risen by 594%, with annual growth rates of between 12% and 21 % for each year over the growth rates of all disabilities (“Texas Public Schools Autism Prevalence Report School Years 1992-2003,

One report has documented that certain chemical levels below the standard toxic levels as defined by Federal Regulations may act in conjunction with other chemicals to cause autism (Kreiling J., Stephens R., Reinisch C. “A Mixture of environmental containments increase cAMP- dependent protein kinas in Spisula embryos. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology 2005; 19; 9-18.).

These chemicals can enter the environment in various ways, but airborne transmission can disperse these pollutants into both ground water and soil, and thus into the food chain. Many of these chemicals come from vehicular exhaust from internal combustion engines.

“It has been proposed that autism has features in common with other neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (particularly the environmental responsiveness and brain inflammation that all three conditions appear to share) and with other illnesses with strong environmental components such as various immune and autoimmune diseases.” ( “Time to Get a Grip,” Martha R. Herbert, M.D. and PH.D., Autism Advocate, Fifth Edition, 2006)

Twice the vehicles causing twice the amount of exhaust pollutants. How many more cases of autism alone will occur? How many other environmentally responsive diseases will also arise?

Thus far the people arguing systems to resolve the transportation problems of the future for the DFW Region have only offered one response -- pave more land and offer some light rail.

Are they ignoring the victims who will suffer from such a pathetic response?

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