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

Sophie Gray Sir John Everett MillaisBy 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:


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 inducingmitochondrial 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.



My heart goes out to these kids who got sick at LeRoy. I have a child who got sick at William Byrd in 2012 and 2013 with twitches, tremors and twitch-like seizures. Very similar symptoms to the LeRoy kids, except without the verbal outbursts. The cause was environmental -- toxic mold at school. In particular, black mold -- Stachybotrys chartarum. A very deadly mold that damages the respiratory and nervous system. Also, my son got pneumonia and involuntarily stopped breathing while twitching. Since when does a psychogenic illness cause pneumonia and cessation of breathing?

It's despicable that the NY health department, school and NY newspaper blamed the kids for the illness and labeled them "psychogenic". Blaming the victims. Total bull. I thought it was outrageous how the NY newspaper reporter interviewed some of these victims and then pointed out all their "pscyhological" problems and threw the "psychogenic" label at these kids. Truth is -- everyone's got problems.

Noting that this school is in a flood prone area, along with the type of symptoms -- this is highly suspicious for TOXIC MOLD. Toxic mold can exist indoors (such as school buildings with neglected flat and leaking roofs) and outdoors in areas prone to flooding, highly shaded, etc. Now that my son is highly sensitive to mold, we've seen him react in water-damaged buildings, and some outdoor environments.

Toxic mold not only can GROW in the body (yikes!) but also produces poisons called mycotoxins. Mold actually grows in sinus cavities, lungs, etc. Some mycotoxins are so toxic (such as those produced by Stachybotrys chartarum) that they have been used as biological weapons of war. About 25% of the population is susceptible to mold, and some individuals highly susceptible. Mold is more toxic than you think.


Heather Graham.



Correction - I meant carbonate not carbomate in the last post.


The spill of the chemicals was many years ago and you have to wonder why in 2011 did these conditions manifest so strongly if there is a tie to the spill and these symptoms. It could be the continous exposure coming to a head or just how certain previous effects eventually mainfest, but that is hard to prove,and in these cases not very convincing. The floods have been pointed to as a possible reason for a episodic exposure, but have there nott been other floods in the inerim? One curiosity in this I thought beyond possible latent Swine Flu involvement or other bacteria like strep is the timing of earthquakes{even mild} relative to the onset of the symptoms and the earthquakes in relation to the floods that have been mentioned as possibly distributing the chemicals. If some eathquake activity occurred at the right timing and somehow released the conained chemicals then on there own or thereafter a fllod could have transprted them into circulation in the populous.
This way floods and the timing of earthquakes together might answer to the reason why other fllods alone would not have exsposed the chemicals to people. Even fracking wells could have been compomised by eathquake activity fracturing there containment structures. There was earthquake activity in Martch of 2011 in that region and the major quake in August, while not centered near Leroy, could have effecte the carbomate layers containg pockets of chemcial solution or even possibly illegally dumperd or buried chemicals from years past. I can;t say anyone would ever bury toxic chemicals in the Love Canal region in adjacent counties though.

Heidi Morgenstern

Wonderfully written and executed. Starting with a warning about gender discrimination yet delicately explaining that women in fact may have a different response to environmental exposure. Great research. Keep up the good work!

Not an MD

I was informed yesterday that the former Governor of NY, David Paterson, stated on a radio network that if the Leroy children were found to suffer from conversion disorder, there would be no liability for the school district or any other entity, but that if environmental causes were found, there would be liability. Sounds to me that it is very plausible a cover-up is going on for liability protection purposes. How sad for those who are affected, but are obviously not suffering from conversion disorders. How sad for them, too, that the former Governor is not still the Governor.

chi chi

From this article.."Hammond did say most of the girls did not get the HPV vaccine Gardasil, so any side effects wouldn't have caused the symptoms". This is not true at all!Look at the school website and the report about the vacines they had. Only 4 of the 12 did not have 1 to 3 rounds of Gardasil, but maybe the remaining 4 had Cervarix which is the same thing. Read on..Aluminum is a neurotoxin that affects the brain and is cumulative. Any amount eaten or injected via vaccinations can accumulate and affect behavior or motor skills. The brain can malfunction in various ways when exposed to aluminum. Tourette syndrome could be one of those ways. It includes everthing from Motor tics (involuntary muscle twitches) to Stuttering, Bedwetting, and even Autism. Maybe the girls ought to have a hair test with spectrographic readings of hair clippings or nails to see how much aluminum is lodging in body tissue.
Gardasil and Cervarix, many adverse events have been registered with the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. The school report never included the possibility the other 4 girls may have had Cervarix shots. They only reported that most of them had 2 to 3 rounds of shot of Gardasal.
Both Gardasil and Cervarix of which have “generous” aluminum amounts [as high as 225 mcg] as adjuvants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System details thousands of adverse effects experienced by girls and women after receiving Gardasil. This just isn't happening in LeRoy NY, it's all over the nation.

Stop Big Harma

I wouldn't be surprised if that's why they left the town name out of the Times article - to keep readers ignorant of any information about the Le Roy disorder except "all the news that's fit to print." Why make it easy for readers to do a search and learn more?

Here's another link to the article which I hope will not stop working like the other two.

Also, here's a good letter from a reader responding to it.

If the link doesn't work, Google: laurence steinberg adolescent girl hysteria new york times


Thanks for posting the Times link. Funny, it much easier to search for the science on it: "Toluene + females more affected by," "trichloroethylene + more toxic to females," etc. But I suppose if they include the name of the town it makes it too easy to cross check Earth Justice or FrackAction maps for industrial polluters. In our arena, it sucks having things turn out as expected. You want to be wrong. But whether you bury the hysteria theory pig in irony and air quotes or throw a tarp over it, the pig is still a pig.

Stop Big Harma

Sorry the New York times link in my previous comment did not work. Try this one:


Slate links to NYT's garbage in their hysteria artice that includes gems like:
There’s no consensus about why women and girls are more vulnerable to episodes of mass hysteria. One professor speculated last year that “Stress, boredom, concern about their children and other factors among young females” could have triggered a recent fainting epidemic among female factory workers in Cambodia.

Or maybe there's something in the factory that's making everybody sick. Nah. That could result in a lawsuit. Let's call it hysteria.


New York Times drivel about Le Roy

The NY Times did actually cover the Le Roy tic disorder - but the article was not easily internet searchable (or findable) since it did not mention the name of the town - only "a small town about 50 miles from Buffalo."

The NY Times coverage is what you'd expect - pharma-friendly - supporting the conversion disorder dx and even saluting the neurologist (without naming him - Laszo Mechtler) who's crusading for acceptance of the diagnosis without disclosing the fact that he's earned $175,000 speaking for the drug companies who make the drugs that treat it.

A tidbit from the gag-worthy article which explains the students' tics as being caused by female hysteria:

"their emergence as sexual creatures brings with it heady excitement and increased physical vulnerability"

Oddly, the author does acknowledge that one boy suffers from the tics, but she doesn't seem to care that this completely blows her female hysteria theory.

Here's the artice. It's as awful as it can be. Don't read it while eating. Or drinking. Unless it's a good, stiff drink.



Compelling reading again, Adriana. The LeRoy sufferers have my sympathy. Unbelievable how so-called experts can make pompous pronouncements about causality without having physically examined the complainants...

Decades ago my grandmother developed physical symptoms following a nearby cropdusting, which a doctor attributed to menopause -- despite at least three neighboring women of varying ages having similar symptoms. I suspect that was a major causal role in health effects to her that were long-term and devastating.

Birgit Calhoun

Have any of the victims been asked about contact with mercury? Movement disorders have been described in Minamata disease as well as in the PubMed article "Elemental mercury poisoning probably causes cortical myoclonus". Just a thought



The "fracking fluid" does contain boric acid, which also
contains arsenic.We all have to stand up and demand
from the gas companies and from the school.I can 100% agree with Ms.Sharon Perry "Stand up and demand that these toxic chemicals be discontinued and banned once and for all". Learn from the painful mistakes of the past and do not repeat them again.If there is no water,there is no life.
Putting the filter on is only a bandaid solution.We are only temporary visitors on EARTH,save the future and environment for the generations that yet to come.

Jenny Allan

Sharon Perry says:-
"The children of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange are ill and suffering."

It's very sad, but the dioxins associated with Agent Orange can damage DNA, which then can result in damage being passed on through successive generations. Exposure to excessive radiation, for example after a nuclear explosion or accident, can also cause heritable DNA damage.

Sharon, I hope your daughter is now receiving some appropriate medical care, but she shouldn't have had to wait 20 years. I wonder how long it will take the US authorities, to properly investigate and acknowledge the neurological damage caused to those Leroy victims.

Sharon Perry

My daughter was diagnosed with conversion disorder when she was 10 years old. She suffered from debilitating muscle spasms since she was 7 years old. She also had the tics. The neurologists said she was faking. Today after 20 years she was diagnosed with gastroparisis. Her father served in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange. I have always believed that was the cause of her health problems. My husband did 2 tours in Vietnam and died in 2005 at the age of 56 due to his exposure to AO. I should mention that there were many chemicals and combinations of chemicals used in Vietnam including arsenic. Arsenic is an ingredient in Agent Blue. This is the first time I've ever read an article about conversion disorder affecting anyone but my daughter. What is even more amazing is that some people involved want answers like we do and do not believe what has happened to these young girls is all in their heads. The children of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange are ill and suffering. Let this be a dire warning to all those who refuse to stand up and demand that these toxic chemicals be discontinued and banned once and for all. Please contact us through our website http://www.agentorangelegacy.com.


Excellent article giving the courageous girls from Leroy the serious consideration and respect they deserve.

Maybe some in the news media are feeling the "hypnotic influence" of ads paid for by the gas industry. NY is currently reviewing 61,000 public comments on proposed fracking regulations. If a link can be made between the gas wells on school property and the illness, this obviously would not be good for the industry or the school district.


Please review the investigative video from link tv -
Fracking Hell: The untold story. There are several powerful and harmful chemicals are used during the "fracking" process.
The experts know that this can cause nervous system disorders,bone and liver cancer,brain disorders, developmental disorders etc. These fracking fluids come back
up and water becomes polluted.These girls are the canaries
(the most sensitive/who reacted)that indicating there are some toxic
cocktails present in the area. Better find the answers and the root causes now,before this becomes a "ticcing" time bomb in the future.
Does the school has a contract with the gas company? How much money did they receive? What is in the "fracking fluid"? This video will give you some answers.This new
technology can destroy us all.Learn about this issue,the
answers are at the end of the video (well worth your time).


It wasn't that long ago that doctors were performing hysterectomies in hopes of curing women's..."hysteria."

Obviously, the medical community has made very little progress since that time.

Media Scholar

Did a VAERS search...this does not include all possible symptoms that may relate to HPV vaccine and tics. Needless to say, tics are a fact of life with the "Help Profits For Vioxx" vaccine.

Found 487 events where Vaccine is HPV or HPV2 or HPV4 and Symptom is Abnormal behaviour or Neck injury or Nerve block or Nerve degeneration or Nerve injury or Nervousness or Nervous system disorder or Neurological examination abnormal or Neuromuscular blockade or Neuropathy or Neuropathy peripheral or Parkinson\\\'s disease or Parkinsonian gait or Parkinsonism or Peripheral motor neuropathy or Peripheral nerve injury or Peripheral paralysis or Peripheral sensorimotor neuropathy or Peripheral sensory neuropathy or Polyneuropathy or Polyneuropathy chronic or Polyneuropathy idiopathic progressive or Psychomotor skills impaired or Psychosomatic disease or Reflexes abnormal or Reflex test abnormal or Seizure anoxic or Seizure like phenomena or Spastic paralysis or Tic or Tonic clonic movements or Tonic convulsion or Tourette\\\'s disorder

Casey O

Amazing stuff. How antiquated, and ridiculous, for the media to label these girls "hysterical". It's positively Shakespearean. Denmark is very damp, perhaps Ophelia simply had PANDAS? Jeebus.

Donna L.

Brilliant (as always), Adriana. If this had been the high school football team, the words 'conversion disorder' word never have been uttered. And shame on every physician out there who is allowing this BS diagnosis to persist undisputed in the media. These young women don't need psychiatrists - they need lawyers.

Linda Delp

I have read many of these stories. First why not let Erin Brocovich do the testing. Maybe it won't cost anything if they do the testing. Something is going on. And when you have the press at least people are made aware of something going on.

I have had the tic thing for over 15 years after living in a home with water damage/indoor mold. I now have a chemical sensitivity problem which also happens to many that get ill from water damage. The problem is our leaders have looked the other way regarding water damage/indoor mold or the chemical issue. Many have had tics with these illnesses. I have written our leaders for many years and they never seem to do anything, even though there have been fire houses, police stations, court houses where 2 judges died, traffic control buildings, schools, the list goes on and on.

At one time there was legislation regarding indoor mold but it is a political thing along with the chemical issue. Money, insurance companies, etc. There is legislation finally pending "Safe Chemicals Act of 2011" but the chemical industry dosn't like it at all.

It is sad to hear many of the comments that these kids would want press, money or whatever. You could not pay me millions to endure what I have in more than a decade. And you don't read about this stuff on CNN, etc. until recently.

There are many issues going on that people don't realize like the fracking causing problems in water and wells, smart meters being installed where the EMF's are very high in homes, etc. and people getting sick. I have not consentrated my efforts on the fracking or smart meters but I come across these stories and now know people suffering from the smart meters. Why must we have to be exposed to so much including our foods, even this Monsanto issue many countries don't accept their seeds which we do in the US.

Regarding the chemical issue our leaders admit they have no idea what is in our everyday products. In many hearings they say this and that they cause Cancer. Kids this age wear a lot of products like hair spray, fragrances, etc. so it could be a combination of things. Maybe they became weakend from one issue than because of all the other issues that we are all exposed to could have caused their system to become weakend and they have these tics.

I take medication that has made my life much better. I was probably doing it thousands of times within hours time at one point. I didn't do the arm jerking or yell out but at one time I thought it could be tourettes but the neurologists didn't think so because it is usually a childhood illness. Now you can't even tell I am doing it, and I might not do it all day til is is close to my medication. It helps me relax.

At one point it felt like my blood was serging and I couldn't relax. It seemed like I was doing it but couldn't stop. As my illness became worse from living in a bad environment and til I realized I had to change what products I used in the home including cleaning products, shampoo, lotions, etc. I didn't feel much better. I hope these poor kids get help and people stop acting like they are faking. What kid would do that when they are interested life, boys, having fun and who would even thing of such a thing to get attention. There are plenty of ways to get attention. God bless these kids.

And do the proper testing. Air samples are not always the way to go. Bulk samples of everything. If they don't have something to hide then let them do the testing so these people can feel safe. There is so much that you have no idea until you have researched and read so much in over a decade that we are exposed to daily.

Our President has girls and I know he would not accept this conversion disorder when he knows how healthy his girls are and one day they are like this fighting to have their life back. Linda


Is PANDAS naturally occuring ? is it an effect of aluminum in conjunction with strep? are the newer pneumonia shots giving our kids autoimmune disease? Is having high amounts of aluminum in the system working as an adjuvant to natural exposures ?

Stop Big Harma

Fantastic, in-depth analysis, Adriana! Very well done - you've turned up some promising theories - particularly the chemicals leaking from the gas wells and their possible biologic impact on girls.

Will Erin Brokovich become the next Jenny McCarthy - vilified by mainstream medicine and media for her crusade to find the real cause of a devastating but unexplained disorder?

All of these mysterious neurological disorders are a gold mine for the drug companies who make money every time conversion disorder, autism, or another made-up label is handed out. Mask the symptoms - don't learn the cause, heaven forbid.


early results from Dr. Trifiletti are in. Girls have definite strep and mycoplasma exposures. I didn't see the Dr. Drew show but I did go to the web page. Of course the Harvard doc (Sharpe) did seem a little skeptical.

Jenny Allan

AoA readers might want to read more about the Aluminium Sulphate contamination of the Camelford public water supply incident as reported by John Stone,(below). This has many parallels with the Leroy and MMR vaccine controversies and illustrates the callous ways in which governments effect cover ups and damage limitations. Camelford victims too were told their problems were 'psychological'. Aluminium is used in vaccines as an adjuvant.

Exract from above:-
"The Camelford water pollution incident involved the accidental contamination of the drinking water supply to the town of Camelford, Cornwall, England with 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate in July 1988. As the aluminium sulphate broke down it produced several tonnes of sulphuric acid which "stripped a cocktail of chemicals from the pipe networks as well as lead and copper piping in people’s homes. There has been no rigorous examination or monitoring of the health of the victims since the incident, and the long-term implications for those who were poisoned remains unclear.
In 2006 a post-mortem inquest into the death of Carol Cross at age 58, who was exposed to the contaminated drinking water aged 44, showed that her brain contained 23 micrograms of aluminium per gram of brain, compared to the normal brain levels of 0–2 micrograms per gram. Her death was caused by a form of early-onset beta amyloid angiopathy, a cerebro-vascular disease usually associated with Alzheimer's, which could be connected to the abnormally high level of aluminium in her brain. Michael Rose, the West Somerset Coroner, said of the findings: "Further research will be needed before the significance of the elevated brain aluminium concentration in this case can be clarified. A scientific report on the case has been submitted for publication." Cross's husband believes that 20 other people have died as a result of the disaster and that more cases are emerging. Daniel Perl, of New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine said: "If additional similar cases were to appear among the 20,000 exposed individuals then the implications of this incident would become extremely important. Only time will tell. At the very least, increased efforts towards surveillance of individuals exposed in Camelford is certainly warranted."
Victim Sarah Sillifant, who was in her twenties when she was exposed, hanged herself in 2005 after suffering dementia and other symptoms similar to those experienced by Carol Cross. In June 2007, Irene Neal, who lived in Rock, near Camelford at the time of the incident died aged 91. A post-mortem found an "unacceptable amount of aluminium in the brain".

Legal actions against South West Water Authority
In 1991 the South West Water Authority was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 costs at Exeter Crown Court for supplying water likely to endanger public health. The authority paid at least £123,000 to settle almost 500 initial compensation claims and in 1997 a further 148 victims accepted out-of-court damages totalling almost £400,000, approved by a High Court judge sitting in Truro. The settlements ranged from £680 to £10,000.Some later claimed they were "railroaded" into accepting the out-of-court settlements after being told that their legal aid funding would be withdrawn if they continued with the law suit.The judge, Mr Justice Wright, said: "If the case had been contested, there would have been awesomely complex argument over how much [water] they consumed" and that they were "extraordinarily well advised to accept the offer."[45] Cross later said: "The official medical claim from the health authority was that there was no known pathway for aluminium to be absorbed into the body. I would argue that this was a misrepresentation of scientific facts, however it was accepted by the judge [and he] instructed the jury that medical damages could not be awarded. The victims therefore received negligible compensation. This alone is adequate reason for a judicial review, since it resulted in a miscarriage of justice for the victims."
In 2001 Environment Minister Michael Meacher claimed that the Government feared what an unrestricted inquiry might find, and that "There was then a great deal of shenanigans about the terms of reference and fighting at all levels in order to limit the ambit of the committee to get the result they wanted. This inquiry was always potentially hugely damaging and hugely worrying to the establishment in terms of the way they handled the incident and clearly there are elements that want to shut it down."

Cat Jameson

What a great amount of thought provoking information!


This article must also be planting "hypnotic suggestions". But somehow 7 figure paychecks and bi-annual 6 figure industry kickbacks have no hypnotic lure?


Same bullshit Yale's Fred Volkmar used about the autism epidemic, he blamed the media and autism orgs for the increased diagnosis. The same Volkmar who is trying to undo DSM-5 to "undo" the epidemic. The hubris is appalling - and their facade is coming down. Parents across America are going to realize that many experts will rape a child's (or a parent's) reputation with lies and covers up while turning away from the real medical agony at the same time. The parallels to autism are growing clearer - hey, maybe they arent' anti-vaccine lunatics but parents who saw something similar in their children and got the same media sanctioned brush off? This will NOT go well for the frail American "The Kids are All Right" psyche the AAP, CDC, HHS and other orgs rely upon to keep the sheep quiet. KIM

John Stone

I am put in mind of the Camelford water incident in the UK. It is much simpler than this story and much simpler than the MMR story (with which it is precisely contemporary). We know that the water was contaminated, and we know what with (aluminium as we quaintly call it in the UK), people became very ill and there was a cover up: our Department of Health, which had no direct responsibility for the problem made sure the matter was not properly investigated (ahead of state water company sell-offs) and despite the fact that everybody new what was happening, the victims were sold down the river.

The incident happened on 6 July 1988. According to Elizabeth J Sigmund (environmental campaigner) writing in BMJ in 2005:

'In late July 1988 I made contact with a senior toxicologist at the DoH, Dr G K Matthew. We spoke many times: he told me that he had attended committee meetings about the Lowermoor acid water incident and had urged the department to send an expert team to North Cornwall to gather samples of the water and other relevant data, and to make clinical assessments of the health of the people. His words to me were: “I am constantly being overruled”. He asked me to write a critique of the actions of the DoH in
relation to this incident. His words were: “State what we did that we should not have done, what we have not done that we should have done, and name names.”


As a matter of historical focus, Ken Clarke, who is now Justice Minister and head of the judiciary in England and Wales (Lord Chancellor), was appointed by Margaret Thatcher as Secretary of State for Health on 25 July 1988 and it was also less than a month after this (23 August) that the National Health Service executive awarded an indemnity to SKF (the precuser of GSK) over Pluserix MMR vaccine, British government agencies having previously received warnings about the safety of the vaccine from Canada (the first such report dating from November 1987).


Great article Adriana.

Today show has talked to a doctor about this and will be reporting that SOCIAL MEDIA may be playing a role in this unusual situation with these girls!


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