Neurodegenerative diseases: an overview of environmental risk factors

Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Sep;113(9):1250-6. doi: 10.1289/ehp.7567.


The population of the United States is aging, and an ever-increasing number of Americans are afflicted with neurodegenerative diseases. Because the pathogenesis of many of these diseases remains unknown, we must consider that environmental factors may play a causal role. This review provides an overview of the epidemiologic evidence for environmental etiologies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, parkinsonian syndromes (multiple system atrophy and progressive supranuclear palsy), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Epidemiologic evidence for an association between environmental agents' exposure and neurodegenerative diseases is not conclusive. However, there are indications that there may be causal links, and the need for more research is obvious.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bias
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / epidemiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sample Size
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Xenobiotics