A new study from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the Department of Chemistry at Trinity College of Arts and Sciences found nanoplastics linked to Parkinson’s and dementia.
One day, the plastic water bottle you use on a daily basis can break down into microscopic pieces that cause brain damage.
According to recent research, nanoplastics—minuscule particles derived from common plastic objects—bind to proteins linked to Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Our food supply, water, and soil have already been contaminated by these obtrusive nanoparticles. They could now be the next big toxic threat, causing a rise in neurodegenerative illnesses.
Plastic Cups, Utensils Identified as Risk Factors
The new study from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the Department of Chemistry at Trinity College of Arts and Sciences found that polystyrene nanoparticles, which are frequently found in plastic cups and utensils, bind to alpha-synuclein, a protein linked to Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. The accumulation of plastic proteins was observed in mouse models, cultured neurons, and test tubes.
Subscribe to GreatGameIndia
The primary investigator of the study, Andrew West, stated that the most unexpected discovery was the strong connections that were made between the protein and plastic inside neuron lysosomes. Lysosomes are digestive organelles found in cells that break down waste products and cell debris with the help of enzymes.
Jay Van Rein, a spokesperson for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, revealed that millions of flies harvested at military bases were to be dropped over Los Angeles to sterilize an invasive species of Asian fruit fly.
Mr. West released a statement saying, “Our study suggests that the emergence of micro and nanoplastics in the environment might represent a new toxin challenge with respect to Parkinson’s disease risk and progression.” He pointed out that this is particularly alarming considering the anticipated rise in these toxins in our food and water.
An increasing body of research suggests that nanoplastics are present in indoor air, particularly. They increase the risk of cancer because they can enter the bloodstream and brain directly from the respiratory system when inhaled.
Change Environment Now to Prevent Disease Later: Expert
Our previous surroundings had a significant impact on our health now. “Ending Parkinson’s Disease” author and neurology professor Dr. Ray Dorsey of the University of Rochester in New York.
“For example, the risk of lung cancer is a function of our past smoking habits,” he said. “If we want to live lives free of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer in the future, we should pay attention to our environment today.”
According to Dr. Dorsey, the Duke study strengthens the case that common hazardous contaminants may be a factor in Parkinson’s disease. Although additional investigation is required, data from epidemiological and laboratory investigations indicate that the environment is contributing to an increase in the incidence of Parkinson’s disease.
“Much, if not most” of Parkinson’s cases may be preventable, he said.
Dr. Dorsey noted that in addition to using less plastic, there are other sensible safety measures we can do to minimise our exposure to this environmental hazard. Among them are the following:
- Using carbon filters to protect ourselves from chemicals in the water.
- Purchasing organic food.
- Thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables.
- Using air purifiers if living in areas with high air pollution.
Parkinson’s-Linked Pollutants, Pesticides Still Legal Despite Risks
In addition to nanoplastics, organic pollutants known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were outlawed in 1979 but are still present in 30% of American schools, have also been connected to Parkinson’s disease. Researchers have discovered elevated levels of this contaminant in the brains of Parkinson’s disease patients who have passed away.
“We need to know the full extent of this toxic threat in our classrooms so that we can test for PCBs, remediate it, and inform families that their students may be at risk of exposure to these dangerous chemicals,” Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement.
We still need to stop using other environmental pollutants that have been connected to Parkinson’s disease. Although there hasn’t been any movement thus far, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suggested banning pesticides and dry cleaning chemicals linked to a 500% higher risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Toxic Pesticides Harming Health but ‘Political Will’ Lacking
The insecticide chlorpyrifos (CPF) was outlawed by the EPA in 2021, however in November 2022, a court overturned that ruling. Studies indicate that CPF is probably a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease.
A story published in The Guardian claims that research conducted by Syngenta, the maker of paraquat, has connected the herbicide to Parkinson’s disease. According to reports, Syngenta, a Chinese company, established a “paraquat SWAT team” to challenge the data and refocus attention on other environmental problems.
“We increasingly know that environmental toxicants from plastics from pesticides are harming our health,” Dr. Dorsey said. “Almost all of these are addressable; the only question is whether we have the political will to do so.”