Daily News Archive
in Brain Diseases Caused by Pesticides and Other Pollutants
(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2004) A
recent report published in the journal Public Health found that an alarming
rise in brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and motor
neurone disease, is related to increased use of pesticides and other
environmental pollutants and increased exposures to multiple chemicals.
The report looked at the incidence of brain disease in the US, the UK,
Japan, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain
from 1979 to 1997. They discovered that the numbers of sufferers of
brain diseases have soared across the West in that 20 year time period.
The researchers then compared death rates for the first three years
of the study period with the last three, and discovered that dementias
- mainly Alzheimer's - more than trebled for men and rose nearly 90
per cent among women in England and Wales. The other countries were
also affected. For other ailments, such as Parkinson's and motor neurone
disease, the researchers learned there had been a rise of about 50 per
cent in such cases for both men and women in every country except Japan.
The increases in neurological deaths mirror rises in cancer rates in
the West. The team emphasized that its figures took into account of
the fact that people are living longer and it also made allowances for
the fact that diagnoses of such ailments have improved.
In the late 1970s, there were around 3,000 deaths a year from these
conditions in England and Wales. By the late 1990s, there were 10,000.
"This has really scared me," Professor Colin Pritchard of
Bournemouth University, one of the report's authors, told The
Observer. "These are nasty diseases: people are getting more
of them and they are starting earlier. We have to look at the environment
and ask ourselves what we are doing."
Dr. Pritchard explained that genetic causes were ruled out because any
changes to DNA would take hundreds of years to take effect. "It
must be the environment," he said. The authors believe that the
sharp increases in brain diseases are linked to a rise in levels of
pesticides, industrial effluents, domestic waste, car exhausts and other
common pollutants that people are exposed to daily. "You have got
a devil's brew of environmental change and it is beginning to show signs
in the patterns of these diseases and the numbers of deaths. We are
not taking pollution seriously enough. People should stop putting their
heads in the sand," Dr. Pritchard was quoted by The Daily Mail
The authors also
noted that exposure to many chemicals at once probably plays a larger
role than just single exposures. "The multiple use of chemicals
in our home and in our food is part of our everyday society, but what
the chemical industry does not test is the interaction between several
chemicals being used at once. This increase in deaths has to be environmental,"
Dr. Pritchard added. When registering pesticides, EPA does not consider
the synergistic effects of the active ingredient with other chemicals.
TAKE ACTION: Contact [email protected],
EPA Administrator Mike
Leavitt , and your U.S. Senators
Representative, telling them how you feel about the importance of
protecting human health from toxic pesticides and the necessity to take
action on the above bullets.
Curtail your exposure to pesticides. Beyond Pesticides offers a plethora
of non-toxic alternatives to pesticides. Learn how you can protect your
children and loved ones from the effects of pesticides in your home,
on your lawns, in schools, in hospitals and other public places. See
Beyond Pesticides Alternatives
Fact Sheets, How-To Factsheets,
information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in schools,
information on organic food, and
many other available materials and publications.