Are ubiquitous chemical products in our daily lives causing unexplained neurological diseases?

Two classes of chemicals found in everyday objects have been shown to have harmful effects on specific brain cells. If the link is proven, these substances could be the cause of currently unexplained neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

Two new classes of chemicals may be potentially harmful to the brain. Widely distributed and used every day, from our furniture to hair products, they may be linked to the onset of neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis or autism spectrum disorders.

Chemicals that act on brain cells

An American research team has succeeded in showing that certain chemicals act directly on oligodendrocytes, the brain cells responsible for producing the protective covering around neurons. However, loss of oligodendrocytes is a cause of multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases. “Neurological disorders affect millions of people worldwide but only a small portion can be attributed to genetics, indicating that environmental factors play an important role in the onset of these neurological diseases.“, explain the authors of the study in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Children are especially at risk

By reviewing 1,800 chemicals to which humans may be exposed, they identified two classes of risk to oligodendrocytes: organophosphate flame retardants and quaternary ammonium.

Organophosphate flame retardants are added to certain products such as building materials, furniture, electronics to reduce the risk of fire. Quaternary ammonium is a very effective disinfectant agent against bacteria, fungi and viruses. These chemicals are surfactants and are used in conditioners and fabric softeners“, details from Science and the Future Paul Tesser, study co-author and director of the Institute for Glial Science at Case Western Reserve University.

A population at risk has no particular (…)


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