Chemical Pollutants May Be Leading to Rise in Neurological Diseases

The number of people suffering from neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s has risen sharply in industrialized countries, and according to a new report in the journal Public Health, chemical pollutants may be to blame. The incidence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias has more than trebled in men and risen by nearly 90 percent in women in England and Wales; other countries have experienced similar increases. The recent rise in the number of deaths from neurological conditions has come about too quickly to be attributable to genetic changes, leading Colin Pritchard, one of the study’s authors, to conclude that “it must be the environment.” Pritchard points to the growing prevalence of pesticides, exhaust fumes, and the industrial chemicals used in all manner of consumer products. There are some 80,000 such chemicals in use, and “for the vast majority of chemicals we have so little safety data that the regulatory authorities have no idea what a safe level is,” says Matthew Wilkinson of the World Wildlife Fund.