Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu - Why Mexico City? It's Evansville in July

I have been working nonstop this month doing a series of presentations about biomedical interventions for autism. So far, I've finished and presented seven different talks, which presented information about immune disregulation, gastrointestinal illness, labs, diets, supplements, and the association of environmental toxins in the epidemic of autism. Tomorrow night I will be talking about vaccines. In preparation for tomorrow night's talk, I have been learning about why things like aluminum and mercury are put into the vaccines in the first place. It has to do with their effects on preserving and enhancing viral activity. This worries me, because I also know from my research and presentations, that there are several other toxins, including heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and cadmium, that also change the way the body handles viruses. This is what has been bothering me all day today.

Today, instead of preparing for tomorrow night's talk, I am consumed with the breaking news about the Swine Flu. As of the afternoon there are 40 confirmed cases in the United States. Apparently the largest cluster is among a group of students in New York, who had traveled to Mexico for Spring Break. There has been much commentary on the news about the fact that the cases in the U.S. (thus far) have been mild compared to the spectrum of illness that is currently ravaging Mexico City. This begs the question, "Why is it so bad in Mexico City?" We need to figure out the answer to that question if we are to predict where the pandemic will be most severe in other parts of the world, including here in the U.S.

As I have been pondering (obsessing about) this question today, I keep getting a sinking feeling in my gut. The reason is because I know too much. That's not a compliment to myself, it's a statement that explains why I have so much trouble sleeping some nights. I have an incessant need to know "why" things happen. In this case, you will have to judge if this is a good thing.

The sinking feeling in my stomach is related to something I remember from the second Defeat Autism Now! Conference I attended (April 2007). There was a presentation given by Dr. William Rea, from the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, Texas. The presentation was entitled, "The Environmental Aspects of ASD; The Early Mechanisms of Chronic Degenerative Disease and Hypersensitivity." I know, that's a long title. Much of the presentation was about the impact of toxins (heavy metals, pesticides, organophosphates, etc.) on the immune system and the subsequent link to autism. This will not sound like Greek to anyone who has researched the issue of thimerosal (mercury) or aluminum in vaccines and their effects on viruses.

Anyway, the main thing I remember from Dr. Rea's presentation was a photograph of Mexico City and the smog there. When I got home this afternoon, I pulled out my binder from that Conference and looked up Dr. Rea's presentation. I found the photo of Mexico City, and written above it, in my handwriting, is "Evansville in July."

So, I googled "Mexico City" and "Air Pollution." Here is what I found:

Mexico City ranks at the top of the list of "Most Polluted Megacities" in the world, according to Maricela Yip and Pierre Madl, authors of an interesting paper, completed while they were students at the University of Salzburg in Austria. It appears the paper was published under the direction of Dr. W. Hofmann, and the Department of Biophysics, "in Cooperation with the Afro-Asian Institute (Salzburg, Austria) and International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health at QUT (Australia)."

I honestly don't know how impressed I should be by these authors or whether or not the source is a "valid" one. However, when I read the article (actually skimmed it, due to time constraints), several bells went off. Why is this relevant to Southwestern Indiana?

The article talks about the specific toxins that are ranked "severe" and "heavy" in Mexico City: Sulfur Dioxide, Particulate Matter, Lead, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, and Ozone. These are some of the same toxins that cause Southwestern Indiana to have more PPM and Ozone Alert days in the summer than they have in Los Angeles. If you think I'm joking, check out the EPA website for yourself. And, like Mexico City, we live in a valley, so the toxins get trapped here. If you have ever read this blog before, you have probably read some of my "rantings" about these toxins and the health effects of living in the "Coal Burning Power Plant Capital of the World."

I am not going to reprise my rants here, but if you would like to learn about what's in our environment and how it relates to this discussion and your children's health, please read the previous posts: It's In the Air In Southwestern Indiana and Environmental Toxins and Autism. (click on the title to go to the original post.)

To learn about how the air pollution in Mexico City may be contributing to the high levels of deaths from the Swine Flu, please read the article, Air Pollution in Mexico City by Maricela Yip and Pierre Madl.

If there really is a connection here, we need to take steps now to beef up our immune systems by taking antioxidants and natural anti-virals like grapefruit seed extract and olive leaf extract. This will be especially important for groups whose immune systems are already compromised by persistent viral infections (herpes, HIV, Epstein-Barr, etc.). This includes children with autism, ADHD, asthma, and allergies. It also includes adults with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

Don't panic, but now is the time to prepare. If there is a connection between the air pollution and the flu virus, places like Southwestern Indiana may have a lot more to deal with in the near future than high rates of autism, cancer, and suicide.

I hope I'm wrong.