Green News & Events

Environmental Factors in Early Alzheimer’s

Why are so many young people getting Alzheimer’s? A new study of patients in 21 countries from 1989 to 2010 points to high levels of neurologically toxic chemicals in the environment. And it’s terrifying.

The authors conclude that although dementia is typically associated with people over 60, Alzheimer’s disease is now regularly being diagnosed in fortysomething patients.

Today, American men over 75 are three times more likely and American women are five times more likely to die from a neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s than they were 20 years ago, according to USA Today. Part of the increase can be attributed to better cancer and heart disease treatments–but not all.

“The environmental changes in the last 20 years have seen increases in the human environment of petro-chemicals—air transport—quadrupling of motor vehicles, insecticides and rises in background electro-magnetic-field, and so on,” wrote lead researcher Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University.

Much of these things we can’t control. But some of them we can. Here’s a list of seven things I’m doing to reduce my exposure to brain-affecting neurotoxins.

  1. Test your home for lead. If you have high levels, test your family’s blood. If those levels are high, contact experts at Lead Free America to advise you on next steps.
  2. Choose low-mercury fish.
  3. Look for TB117 labels to avoid furniture and baby products made with foam that’s been treated with flame retardants. Wash hands regularly to reduce levels of PBDEs you are exposed to.
  4. Eat organic to avoid pesticides. Follow EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists of fruits and vegetables.
  5. Keep house plants that filter air, and install air filters if possible.
  6. Use BPA-free plastic, glass or metal to store food and drink; never microwave food in plastic.
  7. Avoid nonstick cookware like Teflon.


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