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Vive la Difference: The LeRoy Outbreak, Toxic Gender Disparity and Conversion of the Media

Posted Feb 01 2012 12:00am 2 Comments

Sophie Gray Sir John Everett Millais By Adriana Gamondes

By now the outbreak of tics and Tourette’s like symptoms among primarily female high school students in LeRoy, New York, has hit the mainstream media—all except The New York Times, which so far has printed nothing on the tragedy.  Why? 

It’s possible that Times management may have foreseen that, after more low-brow media had exhausted the standard diversionary red herring theory for mass outbreaks of movement disorders among females— that the girls suffered from the too-Freudian “conversion disorder” or “mass hysteria”— environmentalists would eventually descend on LeRoy to test the soil, air and water and study potential toxic sources.

The problem for the Times may be that there's no progressive-seeming way to spin the story—mod shade of lipstick or not, the hysteria theory is still a pig.  Though it’s a very useful pig with so many industry-exculpating applications which the Times is deeply invested in. For instance, what if environmental theory in the LeRoy outbreak implicates industries or institutions represented by the Times’ shared board members? 

Maybe in an oblique, all-purpose pitch to de-pig-ify the hysteria theory, Times editors could dredge up a representative from an astroturf breed of Prozac-friendly postfeminist like Elizabeth Wilson, author of Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body, in which she argues incomprehensibly that:

Listening to Prozac does not simplistically replace psychological or cultural determinism with biological determinism; more carefully, it opens up the very nature of determination (i.e., certainty, termination, resolution) to interrogation.

But there’s another option beyond bad genes and bad childhoods: Biological indeterminism—as in consumers have little informed consent about the safety of the air we breathe, the food and water we consume and the drugs we take. We are not always in control of how toxins impact us in combination, how they got into us in the first place or our individual toxic susceptibility.

The environmentalists have in fact descended on Leroy: :

The competing psychological-disorder diagnosis — Buffalo Drs. Laszlo Mechtler and Jennifer McVige have called it both conversion disorder and mass psychogenic illness — is what's known as a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it is applied when other more tangible explanations have been ruled out.

Miller and representatives of the environmental and health groups say not enough work has been done to exclude these other possibilities.

"Right now you have a cluster of sick kids, and nobody's quite sure what's going on. It's kind of been a rush to judgment here," said Claire Barnett, executive director of the Healthy Schools Network, a nonprofit group with offices in Washington, D.C., and Albany.

Officials at the state Department of Health, which has looked into the cluster, avoid speculating about the cause. Spokesman Jeffrey Hammond notes there are "many causes of tics-like symptoms," and stress often makes them worse.

But Hammond did say most of the girls did not get the HPV vaccine Gardasil, so any side effects wouldn't have caused the symptoms. He said the physicians in Buffalo also ruled out infections in the patients they saw.

Hammond noted that indoor air testing done for the school district found no evidence of toxic-chemical contamination, a lack of fresh air, mold or other problems. And he argued the lack of symptoms reported by staff members and male students argued against a contaminant spread through the air.

In the end the claim that solely female students were stricken has been contradicted. Aside from vague reports that, among the 15 or so victims in LeRoy, one male student may have been affected, Age of Autism blog editors Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill were contacted by the family of Bryan Trembley, a thirty-five year old resident of Bath, New York, who developed  very similar symptoms to the girls in LeRoy in September . Bath—aptly named considering that, like LeRoy, the area is low-lying and subject to flooding as the Age of Autism editors documented— is approximately 60 miles southeast of LeRoy, though the towns appear to be connected by an intricate network of waterways.

Bryan Trembley is obviously not an adolescent or female and so far, no one has suggested he suffers from conversion disorder. In a similar past outbreaks, such as at the William Byrd High School in Roanoke, Virginia in 2007, one adult teacher succumbed to tics along with students. Still, the gender disparity and adolescent bent of the syndrome is obvious, which is likely what brought on quaint speculations of victims’ female-borne psychological instability. Who could be more “susceptible” to this kind of sloppy inference than teenage girls?

I won’t go into the issue of scientific sexism in depth here, mostly because the autism epidemic has already shown that, when it comes to modern industrial profits and institutional PR, male children are no less expendable than female. All the same, when profits and repute are on the line, the tropes tend to fly. And since “conversion disorder” has also been wielded by industry mouthpieces and cooperating media to discredit flu shot injury claims by women as well as other claims of adverse drug and environmental reactions, much rides on the theory.  Whether discrimination is the ultimate motivation or whether it’s merely a means to a corporate-defending end, there are specific types of expedient victim blaming which are more readily flung at one gender or the other. For a good overview of  media promotion of misogyny in the service of corporate agendas and psychiatric fraud, in her 1991 book Backlash, Pulitzer-winning journalist Susan Faludi provides samples— from Victorian claims that women’s ovaries would shrink if they read too much to coerced surgical sterilizations of female factory workers exposed to occupational toxins in the late 20th century.

Then for a counter to the concept that hysteria was, from the beginning, attributed solely or mainly to females and had no other medical explanation, read Mark Micale’s  Hysterical Men: The Hidden Hysteria of Male Nervous Disorders     and note that many of the earliest patients of the “father of hysteria”, 19th century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, were male victims of an array of accidents.

The 21st century neurologist who originally diagnosed several of the LeRoy teens with “conversion disorder” seems to have turned the clock back 100 years and then some:  Laszlo Mechtler is already attempting to turn those who reject the diagnosis into a cautionary tale against the “democratization of the media”— implying that through hypnotic suggestion and the influence of advocates like Erin Brockovich, these supposedly weak-minded creatures have been lulled into pointing hysterical fingers at the spectral trails of environmental demons rather than accepting their own inherently (it is strongly inferred by referring to all victims as “girls”) female defects. 

 The girls who are continuing treatment at Dent Neurologic Institute are getting better, according to Dr. Laszlo Mechtler .

The girls who have been influenced by media hype and discontinued treatment aren't doing as well, Mechtler said Saturday evening in an exclusive interview with The Batavian.

"The ones who are not appearing on TV are getting better," Mechtler said. "The ones who are on TV are getting worse or staying the same."

Of the original 12 girls who were part of the first group of patients suffering from tic symptoms at Le Roy High School, 10 sought treatment at Dent, two didn't, and some have broken off treatment, Mechtler said. Of the 18 patients that doctors are aware of, 14 have been to Dent.

But even for the girls continuing treatment, erroneous and sensational media reports are not helping them, he said.

Mechtler might consider his own “hypnotic” influences: between 2009—2010,  Mechtler received over $116,000 in grants and honorariums from GlaxoSmithKline and Merck alone. This does not include various industry grants to Dent Neurological Research Institute in Buffalo.

Then various multi-industry front groups like ACSH (American Council on Science and Health)— which as recently as July boated board members like vaccine industrialist Paul Offit and vaccine defender Steven Novella who has attempted to deflect flu shot injury claimants with the “conversion disorder” shield—  are already weighing in on the affected LeRoy teens with the same old “hypnotic” inferences:

Unfortunately, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross observes, this expert consensus won’t stop people from trying to blame environmental toxins. “Even when we have a psychologist, a neurologist, toxicologists, and an epidemiologist all in agreement about the particular cause of a disorder, as soon as Erin Brokovich appears on the scene, people will still believe that toxins are responsible,” he says. “They’ll ignore whatever the EPA, local authorities, and medical experts say.”

And in considering the source, Gilbert Ross should consider himself: aside from defending the safety of arsenic in wood preservatives and PCB’s in fish, Ross spent 1996 at a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, sentenced to 46 months in prison  for his participation in a successful scheme to defraud New York's Medicaid program of nearly $8 million.

For all the focus on “conversion disorder” and mass hysteria as purely psychological phenomena with unmistakably female associations, it’s interesting that Charcot himself did not rule out the role of the nervous system and argued against the idea that hysteria was a specifically female malady. Though Charcot’s writings on the physiology of breasts and ovaries in relationship to hysteria, and “diastheses”— or a sort of genetic predisposition— make his modifications partly moot, nevertheless, Charcot referred to “toxic hysteria” and conceded that a purely mercury-mediated form of movement disorders separate from hysteria might exist. In Leçons sur l'hystérie virile (“Lessons from male hysteria”), Charcot writes:

Mais doit-on généraliser désormais et aller jusqu'à dire que tous les tremblements dits mercuriels ne sont, pas autre chose que des tremblements hystériques ? C'est une grave question que l'avenir se chargera de juger. Pour moi, avant plus ample informé, je reste disposé à croire qu'il existe un véritable tremblement mercuriel indépendant de l'hystérie… [ But should we generalize and go on to regard those tremors currently categorized as ‘mercurial’ as nothing other than hysterical tremors? This is a serious question which the future must weigh carefully. For me, until further inquiry, I remain willing to believe that there is such a thing as mercurial tremors independent of hysteria.]

As Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill elaborated in the 2010 book The Age of Autism, the majority of Freud’s famous “hysteria” patients, including one male, showed evidence of medical mercury poisoning and patients of Charcot’s colleagues at the Salpêtrière hospital in France were sometimes treated with calomel, or mercury chloride.  Charcot generally ignored the potential for iatrogenic exposure, though he noted occupational exposure of certain male patients.  

If and when the Times gets around to the standard apologias, it wouldn’t come as a shock if “male hysterics” get a curt nod at last— if only to blunt the usual sexist stereotypes. But stand-alone environmental and iatrogenic issues among “hysterical” case histories will go unmentioned, as well as the fact environmental toxins and pathogens often affect males and females differently.

In the environmental autism arena we generally become aware that testosterone could potentially render infants and children more vulnerable to certain forms of oxidative stress, particularly mercury, which has been hypothesized to explain the 4-or-5-to-1 ratio of boys affected by the condition. This doesn’t mean females are immune to the impact of mercury but may often manifest less dramatic, delayed or sometimes altogether different symptoms. In his 2005 bestseller Evidence of Harm, David Kirby documented research performed by Boyd Haley at the University of Kentucky in 2002. Haley discovered that, whereas estrogen decreased the toxic effects of thimerosal—the controversial preservative in vaccines which is 49% ethylmercury by weight—in in vitro experiments, testosterone combined with tiny concentrations of thimerosal killed brain cells 100 times faster than thimerosal alone. The effect is referred to as “synergy”. It was also discovered that thimerosal and aluminum synergistically killed brain cells at a highly accelerated rate.

In an affidavit, Dr. Haley  remarked on the phenomenon :

One of the conundrums of autism is the 4:1 ratio of boys to girls that get the disease. It has been reported that estrogen therapy reduces the risk of females to Alzheimer’s disease, a clinical condition we hypothesize is exacerbated by mercury. We therefore decided to test the effects of both female and male hormones on the neurotoxicity of thimerosal. The results were eye-opening. For example, 50 nanomolar thimerosal causes less than 5% neuron death within the first three hours incubation and 1 micromolar testosterone caused no significant death within this timeframe.  However, mix these two together and 100% neuron death was observed within the earliest time point checked. This represents a severe enhancement of thimerosal toxicity.  Further, at 12 hours, the neuron death effected by 50 nanomolar thimerosal could be reversed by 1 micromolar estrogen. Estrogen also significantly reduced the testosterone-enhanced toxicity of thimerosal.

Mercury obviously isn’t the only culprit in autism. Also in the autism arena we’ve come to understand that “perfect storm” combinations of heavy metals and other toxins, certain drugs, hormones, genetic susceptibility, underlying immune system fragility and various pathogens may be responsible for the explosion in autism and related developmental disabilities. The issue may be more about affected “pathways” than specific culprits, but as the epidemic of autism rages on, the lack of transparency regarding the removal of mercury from routine childhood immunizations remains compelling: By the latest estimate, full mercury vaccines may have been on pediatrician’ shelves as late as 2008. With the addition of full mercury flu shots for pregnant women and infants in 2003, the childhood vaccine schedule has never been “mercury free”, therefore Haley’s research on the synergy of testosterone and mercury— as they may relate to the rise in autism— and the protective effects of estrogen remain very compelling as well.

All the same, the protective effects of estrogen can’t be extrapolated to every form of toxic assault. First off, females naturally have varying degrees of testosterone. Secondly, there happen to be toxins and toxic combinations to which females are actually more susceptible. Vive la difference. 

To laypeople familiar with the toxic synergy of testosterone and mercury, it might come as a surprise that female hormones have their own toxic Achilles heels, but it’s a bigger surprise that health authorities and the media weren’t even asking these questions when mostly girls in LeRoy were suddenly stricken in fall, 2011. They’re simple questions: Aside from asking whether mostly girls had access to particular areas of the school or particular substances, there’s the question of whether there exist any toxins or infectious agents, either naturally occurring or manmade, to which females— particularly adolescent females— are more susceptible than males or adults? Could the girls at LeRoy have had access to these substances and do any of these substances have the potential to cause neurological damage, movement disorders and seizures, either on their own or synergistically?

Environmentalists are sure to be making these inquiries, though the school has rebuffed help from outside environmental groups insisting—only grudgingly and after being pushed to the wall— that the district will find its own “consultants” with less “self-interest.” Presumably these consultants will be paid. To quote Upton Sinclair, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Could the school’s or health authorities’ lack of initial curiosity have something to do with the discovery made by environmentalists-- that six natural gas wells circle the LeRoy High School?  And that these are owned by the LeRoy school district and apparently employ controversial hydraulic fracturing or "fracking"?

Jennifer McVige, another Buffalo neurologist who originally diagnosed some of the LeRoy girls with conversion disorder, had herself a bit of a Freudian slip with the word “wells” in the course of explaining her theory :

What happens is there traditionally some kind of stress or multiple stressors that provoke a physical reaction within the body," said Dr. Jennifer McVige, a neurologist who has evaluated several of the teens. "This is unconscious, it is not done purposefully and it's almost like ... the stress wells up in your body has to come out in some way shape or form.

Thus far, the school is still clinging to this “hydraulic” theory of somatic afflictions, though a more literal form of hydraulics may be involved.

The school  at first denied that fracking took place at the wells surrounding the school, then insisted that the “brine” which leaked from several wells was merely salt water. But  HLN correspondent  Jim Spellman reported on Dr. Drew that he had seen proof that the natural gas wells surrounding the LeRoy school employed hydraulic fracturing and, furthermore, the school had not reported to students or families that several of the wells had leaked “fracking brine”—a toxic mix of chemicals used in the process— killing plants and trees surrounding the well heads . 

I looked up the chemicals  involved in fracking and in under fifteen minutes, discovered that A) fracking agents are notorious for leaking into municipal drinking water (over 1000 incidents reported by state regulators); and B) three fracking agents among four major chemicals commonly used for the purpose—toluene, benzene, naphthalene and trichloroethylene— toluene,  naphthalene and trichlorethylene can be more toxic to females in specific ways. For instance toluene-- what causes glue sniffers to develop movement disorders-- is more toxic to female lab animals than males and some research has gauged that human adolescent females would be the most susceptible. LeRoy school superintendent Valerie Cox maintained, “If we had environmental causes, we’d see it in a widespread section” of the students and faculty, though this is not necessarily so.

Open page 545  of Hepatotoxicity: from genomics to in vitro and in vivo models by Saura Sahu for a rundown of various toxins known or believed to be more toxic in specific ways to female than to male lab animals

If toluene is the cause of toxicity, then female rats would be more susceptible, whereas if benzoic acid acidosis is the cause of toxicity then male rats would be more susceptible. If this extrapolates to humans, then the toxic effects of toluene to adolescent females would last longer (Shimamoto et al.,1999)..."  Authors explain female susceptibility through comparisons to substances with common effects: "Orotic acid, a precursor of pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthesis, induced a more fatty liver in female rats than male rates (Nagishi and Azawa, 1975). This is probably because [of] the *protective effects of androgens* (Zimmerman, 1999). Phalloidin, a hepatoxin from poisonous mushrooms, induced liver injury in female more than male rats, while androgenic steroids increased the phallodin resistance of female rats (Zimmerman, 1999).  

Naphthalene, also found to be  more toxic to female research animals, is widely known to cause seizures in pets and children when consumed in mothballs.

Trichloroethylene alone is generally considered more toxic to males, yet a particular solution of trichloroethylene may synergistically  increase the toxicity of tandem exposures for females. In a study from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey entitled Nickel Dermal Bioavailability  in Pig Skin Increased by a Chemical Mixture: Role of Gender, researchers discovered that when comparing the absorption of skin from either male or female pigs—which are generally believed to be an excellent animal model for human extrapolation— male skin would absorb nickel alone more readily. But when nickel was mixed with a solution of trichloroethylene, toluene and phenol, both male and female skin would absorb more nickel, though female pig skin would retain the highest concentrations measured in the experiment, considerably higher than the concentrations which penetrated male skin. You could say that trichloroethylene and toluene render certain toxins— to which males are normally less resistant—more “female-philic.”  

Would a similar principle hold in the case of other toxic metals or compounds mixed with TCE and toluene? It’s an important question since Erin Brockovich and colleagues discovered another potential source of trichloroethylene in LeRoy: a train wreck several decades earlier had simultaneously spilled 30,000 gallons of the chemical and a ton of cyanide crystals only three miles from the school.  It's been rumored that gravel and fill dirt from the toxic spill site were transferred to the LeRoy High School site as the school was being built.

Those who survive cyanide exposure  are at great risk of developing Parkinsonism and dystonia apparently . And TCE, like toluene,  is associated with movement disorders:  

Trichloroethylene (TCE) Is A Risk Factor For Parkinsonism, Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Jan. 7, 2008) — Parkinson's disease, the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder caused by aging, can also be caused by pesticides and other neurotoxins. A new study found strong evidence that trichloroethylene (TCE) is a risk factor for parkinsonism, a group of nervous disorders with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.

The mechanism by which TCE may cause movement disorders  appears to be via mitochondrial neurotoxicity . Gash et al.’s  Trichloroethylene: Parkinsonism and complex 1 mitochondrial neurotoxicity concludes:

INTERPRETATION:

Trichloroethylene, used extensively in industry and the military and a common environmental contaminant, joins other mitochondrial neurotoxins, MPTP (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) and some pesticides, as a risk factor for parkinsonism.

For its part in mitochondrial damage, toluene  appears to have the capacity to “permeabilize” rat heart mitochondria. In short, the chemical is used in the lab to make mitochondria more accessible to other chemicals.  Mitochondrial insufficiency  is a known factor in movement disorders, tics, dementia, autism and seizures .

In considering a cumulative process of human toxicity, there have been a series of “fraccidents”—fracking accident— in New York state which could have increased the presence of some of the above chemicals in New York waterways and the general environment.  One “fraccident” was sixty miles south of LeRoy a two years before the two girls from Corinth, New York—who developed tics and Tourette’s-like symptoms in May, 2011—  ate at the Leroy diner during travel for a softball tournament : 

Dave Eddy lives in Allegany County, New York, near a gas well operated by U.S. Energy Development Corporation. The company, he says, uses hydraulic fracturing to extract the gas.

In the spring of 2009, Eddy's wife filled up the bath tub for their kids and "foamy, chocolate-brown" water came out of the faucet.

Testing by U.S. Energy found the family's well was polluted with gas. The company has since installed a water filter in the Eddy home.

Then in Varick, New York, roughly the same distance from LeRoy,  there was an earlier accident in 2006: 

One of those people is Laurie Lytle, a resident of Varick, Seneca County, who signed a gas lease with Chesapeake shortly after buying her home near Geneva in September 2006. By fall 2007, Chesapeake was drilling and hydro-fracturing (fracking) a vertical well in the Queenston formation, 660 feet from Lytle's property line, according to Lytle and a DEC representative.

The morning after the fracking occurred, Lytle said she was surprised to discover that her water was gray and full of sediment. She said she contacted Chesapeake and they told her it would stop in three to four days once the ground settled. After three days, Lytle said the sediment was gone, but the water was still cloudy. She contacted Chesapeake again and they agreed to install a water filter on her well.

Even if these mishaps don’t demonstrate direct contamination of LeRoy, they do indicate the potential nature of “fraccidents.” And in regard to a “perfect storm” concept, there’s evidence of more potential toxins in the area. The following information was gotten from an interactive “pollution map” which is somewhat outdated and  does not show the natural gas wells directly in LeRoy.

Aside from the LeRoy school district’s gas wells, Le Roy has three nuclear power facilities within roughly a 100 mile radius: the R.E. Ginna, Nine Mile and James Fitzpatrick plants.

LeRoy has three Coal Fired plants within 50 miles: Kodak Park in Rochester, AES Somerset in Barker, C.R. Huntley in Tonawanda. Mercury and arsenic are prime pollutants related to coal-fired power. Both can cause tics and seizures. Both are mitochondrial toxins ( See HERE   and  HERE ).

LeRoy is also within 5 miles of the Mill Seat land fill in Bergen and within 10 miles of Monroe Livingston SLF in Scottsville landfill which burns landfill gas. From an article on the effects of landfill gas, which contains various impurities and toxins depending on the area ( See HERE or  HERE ): 

Landfill gas is about 40-60% methane, with the remainder being mostly carbon dioxide (CO2). Landfill gas also contains varying amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, sulfur and a hundreds of other contaminants -- most of which are known as "non-methane organic compounds" or NMOCs. Inorganic contaminants like mercury are also known to be present in landfill gas. Sometimes, even radioactive contaminants such as tritium (radioactive hydrogen) have been found in landfill gas.

NMOCs usually make up less than 1% of landfill gas. EPA identifies 94 NMOCs in their 1991 report, "Air Emissions from Municipal Solid Waste Landfills - Background Information for Proposed Standards and Guidelines." Many of these are toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene, chloroform, vinyl chloride, carbon tetrachloride, and 1,1,1 trichloroethane.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) and trichloroethane (TCA) are different: TCA is regarded as less toxic , but not by a landslide. 

Bath, New York, home to one known male victim of the fall outbreak, is also home to two landfills—the Bath LF and Steuben County DPW , which also burns landfill gas.

On a “death” map, Genesee County is categorized as having among the highest rates of preventable asthma and heart disease deaths in the country, though the counties immediately surrounding Genesee, even in more urban centers, have better chronic disease mortality rates.

Roanoke, Virginia and Vinton, the site of the similar outbreak of tics at William Byrd High School, also has a similar pollution profile. It seems that, like LeRoy, Roanoke, Virginia is surrounded by marshlands: As Dan Olmsted reports, the LeRoy school had flooded several times and it would be worth investigating whether this had happened at William Byrd. Flooding has occurred in Bath and torrential rains hit Western New York in August, 2011. 

For what it’s worth there are a few other overlaps, such as “fraccidents.” Though the two available reports of fracking mishaps occurred after the William Byrd outbreak, again the potentiality is what’s interesting: how many “fraccidents” go completely unreported like the alleged LeRoy “fraccidents”? One incident was in 2010:

The Hagy family in Jackson County, West Virginia, is suing four oil and gas companies for contaminating their drinking water.

They say their water had "a peculiar smell and taste." The parents, as well as their two children, are suffering from neurological symptoms.

Two years earlier, another  "fraccident" occurred roughly 120 miles from Roanoke

In September 2008, a natural gas pipeline operated by Williams Gas exploded in a rural area outside Appomattox, Virginia. The explosion, described as a massive fireball a quarter to a half mile long and tall, destroyed two homes and injured five people.

The surrounding area is dotted by a roughly equivalent number of farms. It has three coal-fired plants within a roughly 50 mile radius:  the Attavista plant, the Virginia Tech and the Radford Army ammunition plant.  Roanoke has six landfills within a fifty mile radius, including the Campbell landfill, the Franklin County landfill, the Smith Gap, the Amherst, the Botetourt County landfill and the Lynchburg City landfill, which also produces landfill gas.  Within a roughly 150 mile radius, Roanoke is surrounded by three nuclear plants—the Harris and Maguire plants in North Carolina and the North Anna in Mineral, VA.   

For other possible female-philic substances with neurotoxic and mitotoxic properties which overlap TCE or toluene, the severely mitotoxic pesticide/pescicide rotenone  affects more female rats than male rats. In Veterinary toxicology: basic and clinical principles, Ramesh Gupta puts it simply:

Rotenone is more toxic to female rats than the males.

Rotenone is commonly used in combination with pyrethrum and both seem to  impact females more than males on their own   Certain pyrethroids demonstrate significant estrogenicity and both pesticides can cause seizures and muscle contractions.  Mosquito spraying for West Nile Virus  used compounds with estrogenic effects .  

Autoimmunity may affect more females than males and environmental estrogens in pesticides and other substances may make the autoimmune gender disparity worse. Ahmed e al.  published Gender and risk of autoimmune diseases: possible role of estrogenic compounds.

A striking common feature of many autoimmune diseases in humans and experimental animals, despite differences in pathology, is that females are highly susceptible to autoimmune conditions compared to males. In several animal models, estrogens promote, whereas androgens abrogate, B-cell-mediated autoimmune diseases…Could environmental estrogens promote some human autoimmune disorders? Is there a link between environmental estrogens and autoimmune disorders, especially since these disorders are reported possibly more frequently?

Dan Olmsted also reported last week that the school documented nine applications of two pesticides around the school grounds between July, 2011 and September, 25th.  The active ingredient in Ace Wasp and Hornet Killer is tetramethrin pyrethroid; and Ortho Home Defense MAX Perimeter and Indoor Insect Killer is also pyrethroid based. On 6/26/08, Ortho was charged with “false, misleading or unsubstantiated label claims” and “improper and insufficient labeling” by the EPA (report # 239-2663).

Rotenone has been used widely in New York state as well as in Virginia:  To control Asian carp in the Great Lakes and reservoirs; to "preserve"  native brook trout in the Adirondacks ; to control  white perch infestations   in the Kerr Reservoir off the Roanoke River ; and in Smith Mountain Lake, which  trails into streams right at the foot of William Byrd High School. Rotenone levels are checked in Smith Mountain Lake.  There also appears to have been a long-standing tent caterpillar  infestation in NY in 2009. And rotenone is used  for this purpose and others.  

Thus far, the parents of the stricken girls in LeRoy have maintained that not all the girls received either the HPV vaccine series or flu shots prior to the outbreak. Some did, some didn’t, so unless new information arises, this does not appear to be the common factor which may give the girls some small hope of seeing the media pursue actual cause. In truth, though, the mitochondrial-toxic properties of certain routine childhood vaccinations may be more grist for the mill—another factor which might have cumulatively worn down mitochondrial resistance to other ambient toxins or toxins combined with pathogens, such as toxic funguses, bacteria or viruses.

Vaccines can be facilitators in other ways as well : three principle and common ingredients in vaccines—aluminum, Polysorbate-80 and formaldehyde — aside from being recognized mitotoxins, have been used in research as adjuncts to chemotherapy due to the ability of these substances to increase porosity of the blood-brain barrier. This is a euphemistic reference to the fact these chemicals damage the blood-brain barrier.  Polysorbate-80, an excipient common in vaccine adjuvants which  has been linked to infertility and nonimmunologic anaphylaxis, has been  used to "escort" cyanoacrylate crystals (which can degenerate into cyanide toxin) to the brain in brain tumor treatment.  Aluminum and formaldehyde, also common vaccine ingredients, have also been used for this purpose Mercury, used as a vaccine preservative and one of the most potent mitotoxins, is also known to damage the blood brain barrier.

What happens when the blood-brain barrier is compromised? Things get into the cerebrospinal fluid that should not, such as chemicals, pathogens and antibodies that normally would not cross the barrier.  If certain viruses and bacteria enter the brain, it’s lights out. But other things, like chemicals and antibodies, may simply set up a chain reaction leading to encephalopathic nervous system and brain dysfunction known by a host of unhelpful psychiatric labels. This could theoretically manifest as increased toxic susceptibility or as syndromes like P.A.N.D.A.S. as Age of Autism contributing editor Theresa Conrick has documented in her recent investigation.

 In the past few weeks, a neurologist arrived in LeRoy to test some of the girls for P.A.N.D.A.S. or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infection, which is a legitimate avenue to pursue considering the recent nationwide explosion of reports of the disorder. Within a “perfect storm” concept of toxic injuries, it could be any number of combined factors and there are others who will no doubt investigate the potential role of synergistic pathogens.

Also, I’m running into material which argues that female animals and “female” plants are more susceptible to certain fungal infections. In some plants this is protective. In some cases, anatomical differences between human genders may lead to differences in susceptibility to infection, though susceptibility may also be due purely to hormones. A study above mentions a mushroom toxin to which female mammals are more vulnerable. I haven’t found much on the interaction of estrogen and progesterone regarding fungal poisoning, although it seems that shifts in estrogen and progesterone impact blood sugar which in turn  can promote fungal infections. In any event, adolescent girls are reportedly more susceptible to “ergotism”—ergot poisoning from a type of fungus which infects rye and other grains— which was one hypothesized cause of the witch hysteria  in Salem, Massachusetts and which Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill suggested  could be a factor in the outbreak of tics in LeRoy .  Toxins which are related to ergot fungal toxins, like synthetic LSD, are acutely mitotoxic, causing programmed brain cell death similarly to glue sniffing; and the ergot fungus in part takes over the host grains such as rye by inducing mitochondrial degeneration in the plant.

Which brings us full circle to speculations of mass hysteria in LeRoy, the modern rendition of “demon possession.” Unlike citizens of Salem in 1692 who lacked the science to determine cause, modern health authorities have no excuse for not digging deeper at the outset of the crisis in LeRoy and fewer excuses for doing a Cotton Mather in response to independent environmental investigations. In a statement to the media, LeRoy school officials accused Bob Bowcock, an associate of Erin Brockovich who simply asked to take soil samples from the school’s playing fields, of “criminal activity.” From  a local news story :

This morning, without any prior notice to the District, camera crews from a number of media sources, including both national and local outlets, entered District property for the purpose of filming an unidentified individual taking soil samples.
It is appalling that whatever group or entity employing this individual, as well as the media outlets participating in this effort, chose to conduct themselves in this way - which can only be characterized as grandstanding. Not only was this criminal activity which forced the District to call in local law enforcement to maintain the security of its property, it disrupted the District’s preparations for a weekend music event involving students from over twenty-two schools as well as other student activities. No legitimate organization would function in this manner.

From NBC News :

Bob Bowcock, a member of Brokovich's team, came to LeRoy from California, NBC News reported.

Bowcock looked at ground water and soil at a nearby park for anything out of the ordinary. "I'm just looking at the environment. I'm trying to see where things drain to. What types of soils they are," Bowcock told NBC News.

However, the school placed locks on all the entrances to the sports field, NBC's Rochester, NY, station reported Saturday. Local police and a school security guard initially refused to allow the Brokovich crew on school grounds until the school superintendent and a district spokesman arrived. Officials agreed to let parents, Bowcock and his team walk the grounds, without media, as long as they didn't take any samples.

The LeRoy district complains about media and lay speculation over the causes of the outbreak, demanding that speculation be left to chosen “experts” who have done nothing but stonewall, obstruct and guard the dirt. It all has the effect of leaving it to independent media, independent advocacy and the lay public to struggle for explanations as if their own children’s lives depended on it, which they do. We have little else to depend on but the slim shoulders of young girls in Western New York.

But these young girls in LeRoy aren’t sitting silently by like Victorian damsels to be slapped with labels—some are speaking out, combating the “conversion” diagnoses, questioning the illogic, denying their lives could have been stressful or traumatic enough to explain the syndrome and have converted the media into a means to call for investigations of environment and better diagnosis.

If the LeRoy teens have been successful in getting out just one message, it’s that what happened in LeRoy can happen anywhere and, in doing so, have made a type of personal conversion after all—from stereotyped passive victims to agents of awareness and change. 

Adriana Gamondes runs the AofA FaceBook page and is a regular contributor to the site. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and recovering twins.



Posted by Age of Autism at February 07, 2012 at 5:46 AM in Cathy Jameson , Environment Permalink

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Good point! Fact remains, boys and girls are very different...

Check this article out, it's all about that: 
Good point! Fact remains, boys and girls are very different...

Check this article out, it's all about that:  
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