Articles of Interest regarding Radon Gas and Well Water issues.

Is radon the cause of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012 by John Salmon

A new study out of the University of Nebraska has raised some new questions (and concerns) in the minds of many researchers.  While it has long been known that radon is a deadly carcinogen that is the cause of roughly 21,000 radon related lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. alone (a number that has risen 150% since its original 1994 estimate), it is now being linked to the cause of disease in other parts of the body as well.

Scientists have lately discovered the presence of radioactive radon particles in the brains of non-smoking individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.  The prevalence of radon was 10 times greater than it was in the brains of persons with no previous evidence of neurological disorders.  Professor Glenn Lykken and Dr. Berislav Momcilovic, who spearhead the study, argue that their work offers definitive evidence that indoor radon gas (which when inhaled can accumulate in lipid tissue throughout the body with the highest concentration in the brain, bone marrow, and nervous system) has the destructive ability to infect the brain with radioactive heavy-metal particles that may act as the seeds needed to grow Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Previous studies, coupled with this one, indicate that radon (once rapidly absorbed into the body via the lungs) does not pass quickly out of the lungs but, instead, lingers harmfully in the body where a fraction accumulates in the brain resulting in increased gamma ray emissions from bismuth-214 (one of the radioactive radon decay products) and altered EEG signals. 

Of keen interest was the unexpected discovery that the radioactivity selectively accrues to the brain proteins in the Alzheimer's victims and to the brain lipids in the Parkinson's victims. This pathognomonic distribution was inferred to reflect the increase of local chlorine availability to which the radon daughters bound selectively.  Once present, the most likely candidate for radiation injury appears to be the highly radio-sensitive astrocytes rather than the more radio-resistant neurons, which do not divide. Other studies have indicated the astrocytes may be involved in Alzheimer's disease and the amyloid deposits and neurofibrillatory tangling observed with Alzheimer's may well reflect the response to radiation injury of the astrocytes.

Interestingly enough, the geographic distribution of Parkinson's disease mortality is considerably higher in states with greater radon potential, according to research by D.J. Lansak of the University of Kentucky and published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences.


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