A review article published on June 11, 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research, focused on the links between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and exposure to toxic metals (especially lead, mercury, aluminum) or metalloids (in particular, arsenic).

Having reviewed the existing evidence, the team of international researchers led by Geir Bjørklund from the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, Mo i Rana, Norway, concludes that “a possible association exists between ASD and exposure to toxic metals.” These toxic agents may contribute to ASD etiology in particular through induction of neuroinflammation and oxidative stress.

Currently, both an increase in autism cases (FPF reported) and a “worldwide increase in toxic environmental pollution” are observed. Therefore, the authors emphasize, detailed studies “on the role of pollutants in neurodevelopmental disorders, including direct effects on the developing brain,” are needed to better understand the potential associations and to define efficient preventive strategies.

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication. Food contact materials represent but one of the many diverse sources contributing to exposure to toxic metals and metalloids.


Bjørklund, G., et al. (2018). “Toxic metal(loid)-based pollutants and their possible role in autism spectrum disorder.Environmental Research 166: 234-250.