Worry for herbicide use on Prairie Path

Letter to the Editor
Published: 5/30/2009 12:00 AM

I am writing you to express my concern regarding the possible use of herbicides along the Illinois Prairie Path and Great Western Trail in DuPage County. As a resident of the Fox Valley area, I know how vulnerable the electrical supply has become, because of overgrown trees. ComEd has to reduce the likelihood of power disruption, following storm activity. However, the use of herbicides may be an instrument that is too blunt or broad for children and women of childbearing age. My primary concern is for the patients and young families that I have seen in my private practice in Naperville. The patients and families have been affected by several neurogenic problems (e.g., autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Asperger syndrome and receptive-expressive language disorder). These problems have been associated with several speech-language and hearing difficulties. My cases have been medically complex, with many unknown causes or syndromes.

Evidence has been growing to show a definitive empirical or experimental link between autism and certain known toxic components, such as mercury and lead. And it has become clearer that environmental factors may be associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the cellular level. The susceptibility of mercury and lead poisoning and ASD has remained a concern in the medical community. We may have an answers to questions, with respect to links between environmental toxins and autism, birth defects in the future. One has not needed a basic understanding of neurobiology to comprehend the lessons that history has taught us on quick fixes.

As such, I am asking your support in opposing the use of herbicides along the Prairie Path and Great Western Trail, which have been shared by very young children, expectant mothers, runners, walkers and bicyclists like me.

Dr. Willard C. Hooks, Jr.

Ph.D., Naperville