Parkinson's and manganese air pollution link

17. July 2007

A University of Toronto study is the first in North America to draw a link between Parkinson's and manganese air pollution, and suggests industry-generated pollutants poses a greater health risk than traffic-generated manganese.

Murray Finkelstein, assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine, worked with Berkeley professor Michael Jerrett to compare the incidence of diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's with markers of exposure to vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions in the cities of Toronto and Hamilton. The study, which examined a cohort of 110,000 subjects over three years, appeared in Environmental Research 2007.

“The results suggest that the manganese threat posed by traffic-generated pollution may be relatively small, but that exposure to ambient manganese in the air from sources like steel foundries does advance the age of diagnosis of Parkinson's disease,” said Finkelstein. “This study supports the theory that exposure to manganese adds to the natural loss of neurons attributable to the aging process.”