Neurological Disorders, Climate Change & Toxins

This week’s section of the NIEH report is about neurological diseases and disorders and climate change. According to the report, the US is experiencing an increase in neurological diseases and disorders. Diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are occurring at earlier ages. There is also a rise in children’s disorders like learning disabilities and autism. The role of climate is not yet fully understood on the incidence and progression of these issues. And, there are no doubt many confounding factors that are related to these increases. Some theories suggest that malnutrition, hazardous chemical exposures, including pesticides in our backyards and in our food, heavy metal exposure, and biotoxins in our food, air and water are drivers (3)


Another factor is the growth of harmful algal blooms in both fresh and ocean waters. Climate changes do seem to play a big part in increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of these blooms on a global scale. By ingesting seafood, swimming in these waters, and even being sprayed by the breaking surf, people are becoming sick. (3) One study linked the massive increase in seizures, epilepsy and deaths of sea lions on the California coast in the past decade to these neurotoxin algal blooms.


There is even concern for the use of mercury in fluorescent light bulbs, especially when they are broken or improperly disposal, and heavy metals in electric car batteries and solar panels. (3)

One factor out of all these issues that stood out to me was the use of pesticides and herbicides. I know that commercial agriculture farms use vast amounts of these pesticides and herbicides. And that overuse of them is creating super weeds that are immune to these chemicals, must like the overuse of antibiotics. And that the use of GMO foods creates a bigger need for more and more pesticides. These pesticides, like Roundup, for example, have been shown to increase sterility, hormone disruption and birth defects in humans. (7) There was a study that showed an increase in non Hodgkins Leukemia with repeated exposure to Roundup. The study was too small to make definitive conclusions, but it is something to be aware of.

Roundup, and other Glyphosate-based herbicides, has been linked to terrestrial and aquatic amphibian deaths and near extinction of many species worldwide. (4)

Well, who cares about frogs and other creatures anyway?


We all should. Amphibians have been around for 360 million years. They have endured 3 mass extinctions of our planet’s ecosystems throughout history. (5)They are indicators of the earth’s environmental health in general, much like the canary in the coal mine. Every ecosystem on the earth is a part of a complex system. The loss of one can have catastrophic effects on others in ways that we cannot even predict.

While attempting to stop the use of these pesticides in such a large scale can be daunting, we certainly can stop using them in our cities and own backyards.

I myself have no issue with weeds. I see weeds and think of bees and butterflies. However, for those of you, like my mom, who can’t stand them, I would suggest, pulling them, you know, by hand. (She does!)

 Which brings me to the tips of the week:



Pull your weeds, don’t poison them. (If you must get rid of them.)


And do not eat GMO foods-here’s a list of the 10 most common: Corn, Soy, Sugar, Aspartame, Papaya, Canola, Cotton, Dairy, Zucchini & Yellow Squash. (6.)



1.Annett, Robert, Habibi, Hamid, Hontela, Alice. (2014.) Impact of Glyphosate and Glyphosate-based Herbicides on Freshwater Environments Journal of Applied Toxicology 25 Feb 2014 vol. 34, issue 5, p 458-479;jsessionid=CDFE7171350326E35575832D7273D2A5.f01t04

2.De Roos, A J, Zahn, S H, Cantor, K P, Weisenburger, D D, Holmes, F F, Burmeister, L F, Blair. (2003.) Integrated Assessment of Multiple Pesticides as Risk Factors for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in Men. Occupational J of Environmental Medicine 2003; 60: e 11

3.(NIEH) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Report, A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change

4.Relyea, Rick. (2005.) The lethal impact of Roundup on Aquatic and Terrestrial Amphibians Ecological Society of America Ecological Society of America Aug 2005.