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Your Environment. Your Health.

Neurological Diseases and Disorders

Climate and Human Health

Neurological Diseases and Disorders

Health Impacts of Climate Change

Neurological diseases and disorders are those that affect the brain, including Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.  Environmental factors are suspected of playing a large role in both the onset and severity of both diseases, in addition to genetics, aging, and other factors.  Neurological conditions impact the quality of life for both the sufferer and the caregiver as well as places healthcare stresses on the economy and workforce.

Doctor and nurse with girl sitting on MRI bed

Health Impacts

  • Malnutrition
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals, biotoxins, and metals in the air, water, and food
  • Changes in pest management leading to an increase use of pesticides
  • Increase in algal blooms releasing neurotoxins in seafood and fresh and marine water, which can cause serious degradation of the brain, respiratory distress, and death in humans
  • Stress, dislocation, and deprivation resulted from extreme weather events, which can have profound effects on the neurological functions

Mitigation and Adaptation

  • Reducing the use of fossil fuels and increasing use of alternative energy to reduce the release of neurotoxicants such as arsenic, mercury, and other metals into the environment
  • Decreasing the use of pesticides for crop pests to reduce release of potentially neurotoxic pesticides into waterways
  • Encouraging the building of walkable cities that allow for easier exercise and increase green space, which have multiple benefits on mental and neurological functioning

Research Needs

  • Expanding research on the toxicity of chemicals known or suspected to cause neurological disorders, particularly pesticides, and understanding how climate change may affect human exposure to such chemicals
  • Improving our understanding of the impact of increased heavy precipitation, ice melts, and flooding events on the risk of environmental contamination through storage-related issues or runoff, focusing on the likelihood of the event, the geographical areas and populations likely to be impacted, and the health outcomes that could result
  • Examining the neurological health benefits and costs of new climate change mitigation technologies, including research on the toxicity of new metals and metal compounds, including nanotechnologies, being used to improve battery performance for electric vehicles
  • Identifying the climate-associated factors that initiate harmful algal blooms and bacterial proliferation and affect their distribution, occurrence, and severity
  • Developing and validating strategies to inhibit the formation and severity of harmful algal blooms
  • Improving understanding of the mechanisms and pathways of acute and chronic exposures to harmful algal biotoxins and their impacts on fetal, postnatal, and adult development
  • Utilizing marine animal models to better understand the mechanisms and outcomes of exposure to harmful algal biotoxins individually and in conjunction with chemical exposures

For more information, please visit the chapter on Neurological Diseases and Disorders in A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change (Full Report) (4MB).

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