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A Healthy Brain Is Essential For Successful, Healthy Aging: Air Pollution Contributes To The Risk Of Alzheimer’s-Type Disease
Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 10/05/2009 - 14:03.
Over the past four years, since I became involved with the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council, I have been astounded by the lack of concern about childhood lead poisoning among our largely DINK and empty-nested, baby-boomed, sprawled, childhood-lead-poisoned suburbanite sustainabilly Illuminati, who view today's lead poisoning issue as a poor, urban, peeling-paint code enforcement problem of little societal importance, other than proof the poor are pigs. They think old, suburban farts are not harmed by lead poisoning, and lead is not of long-term interest to them.
They are wrong.
For quite some time, honest, informed professionals in the medical community have known cumulative lead exposure throughout life has impacts on later life quality. Looking well past the historic consequences of lead poisoning, like the decline of the Roman Empire and death of Beethoven, medical research is finding direct connections between lead poisoning and increasingly prevalent forms of mental illness in the USA, like Alzheimer’s-Type Disease.
While I don't recall ever seeing the connection of lead poisoning and Alzheimer's in the mainstream media, in Northeast Ohio, we have one of the world's experts on Alzheimer's and healthy aging based in Cleveland - Dr. Peter Whitehouse, of University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University - who, with Shaker Heights' and Oxford's Danny George, are busting The Myth of Alzheimer's. I strongly recommend you subscribe to their updates by email and visit regularly.
Not your usual medical industry wonks, they are blasting apart conventional industrial-society thinking about health and aging to "promote an integrative model of human health and wellness", against the "profession-centered, reductionistic approaches of biomedicine that minimize the influences of cultural, experiential, ecological, and cumulative developmental contexts".
Peter has been briefing me on the connection of lead poisoning and mental illness for some time, and provides a powerful repository of related information at The Myth of Alzheimer's lead category. There, I found "a treasure house of important information" on not just lead poisoning and dementia, but on all Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, through reference to a powerful 2008 book of that title: " Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging". From The Myth of Alzheimer's: “Report Finds Risks of Developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases Can Be Dramatically Reduced”:
They recommend the book further, at the website distributing it:
From the forward, by Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc, Professor & Chairman, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY - July 2008:
From the Executive Summary:
Of particular note to our leadership that considers lead poisoning a poor, urban issue, I'll highlight one other passage:
I repeat, "these conditions can also be highly influenced by environmental factors".
We do nothing in Northeast Ohio to minimize or even measure adult lead exposure from paint in old homes, including all those lead-contaminated beautiful old homes in affluent older suburbs around Northeast Ohio, like Shaker Heights, for decades owned by aging residents.
And, we do little to measure and minimize any residents' exposure to lead from industrial emissions, like from the Medical Center Company coal fired steam generation plant, in University Circle, and Mittal Cleveland Works, in Downtown Cleveland. Such exposure may be especially high in nearby hotspots, like may occur at Judson senior care facilities, and Case Western Reserve University, and my back yard, very near the MMCO plant.
As I wrote in "Short-Term Exposure To Fine Particle Air Pollution Can Drive Up High Blood Pressure, Raise Risk Of Heart Attack", it does not appear there is significant, systematic monitoring of pollution near the MMCo plant, now. But EPA modeling of lead contamination at other pollution sources in the region, like the illustration below for Ellwood Engineering Castings, in Hubbard, Ohio, gives some signs of the type of lead fallout that may have occurred around the MMCo plant, over the decades... and may continue today... putting heavy metals and other pollutants in area soil and residents. The inner square below represents a 16 square kilometer monitoring area, with monitors every 50 meters. There are hotspots.
And, in "The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America's Schools" a recent USA Today analysis of toxicity in the air around 125,000 USA schools provides good illustrations of how pollution may be concentrated in specific areas - hot spots - depending on a wide range of factors.
As an important condition defining acceptable quality of life in our communities, consider one rule, from the conclusion of “Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging”: "Chemical trespass, whereby people are exposed to hazardous substances unknowingly or against their will, beginning in the womb and continuing throughout life, should not be tolerated. We should make every effort to prevent exposures, replace toxicants with safer alternatives, and minimize exposures especially to the most vulnerable populations."
If our leaders do not consider this important for our children, perhaps they will consider this important for their own mental health, in their old age.
Read “Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging” and post your thoughts here.