The Autism Biosolids Conundrum

by David L. Lewis
Retired, U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory (1968-2003), Athens, Georgia USA

Despite overwhelming evidence that certain heavy metals, toxic organic chemicals and infectious agents play an important role in triggering autism and other environmental health problems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supports land application of largely unmonitored concentrations of these contaminants in biosolids.


Before Congress passed the Clean Water Act of 1972, municipalities throughout the United States discharged hazardous municipal and industrial wastes directly into rivers and other waterways. Every chemical and biological agent linked to neurodevelopmental disorders, including those linked to “autism spectrum disorders” (ASDs), spilled into coastal waters and settled on the bottoms of the oceans. The solution to pollution was dilution. To comply with the Clean Water Act of 1972, President Carter created wastewater treatment plants throughout the United States to extract heavy metals and toxic organic chemicals from water and concentrate them in sewage sludges that were dumped offshore and buried in landfills. In 1988, Congress banned ocean dumping of sewage sludges because of their potential for causing vaccine-derived polio epidemics. Suddenly, high concentrations of every heavy metal, toxic organic chemical and vaccine-derived viruses linked to autism, including rubella and cytomegalovirus, had no place to go but land. The solution to pollution shifted from diluting pollutants in water to concentrating them on land at hundreds of thousands to millions of times higher concentrations, including on commercial farms that produce our nation’s food supplies. Now, all of the most dangerous pollutants regulated by EPA no longer require biomagnification up the food chain to harm public health. Promoted by EPA and the USDA as safe and environmentally beneficial, land application practices quickly spread worldwide. Here, the author relies largely, albeit not exclusively, on EPA’s own research to address the implications. As a whole, it indicates that the global shift that EPA’s 503 Sludge Rule created in the accumulation of pollutants from ocean sediments to populated land surfaces is causally related to sharp increases in the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders worldwide. Autism in its severe infantile form is more or less at the center of this entire class of disorders that appears to have become epidemic beginning in late 1988. EPA dismissed controversial claims linking MMR vaccination to autism, but never addressed the role that widespread land application of sewage sludges (a.k.a. biosolids), which contain highly virulent strains of vaccine-derived measles, rubella and other viruses, may play in autism. Notwithstanding this glaring omission, the global shift that EPA policies on biosolids created in human exposures to complex mixtures of measles, rubella and other viruses derived from live vaccines, combined with high concentrations of potentially every heavy metal and chemical pollutant linked to autism, could explain sharp increases in the incidences of autism and other ASDs that began in 1988.

Lewis, D. (2020). The Autism Biosolids Conundrum. International Journal of Vaccine Theory, Practice, and Research. Vol. 1 No. 1 (2020): Inaugural Issue. Published 2020-07-15.