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Int J Alzheimers Dis. 2010 Dec 27;2011:607543. doi: 10.4061/2011/607543.

Lead, manganese, and methylmercury as risk factors for neurobehavioral impairment in advanced age.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Medicine, School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Contamination of the environment by metals is recognized as a threat to health. One of their targets is the brain, and the adverse functional effects they induce are reflected by neurobehavioral assessments. Lead, manganese, and methylmercury are the metal contaminants linked most comprehensively to such disorders. Because many of these adverse effects can appear later in life, clues to the role of metals as risk factors for neurodegenerative disorders should be sought in the exposure histories of aging populations. A review of the available literature offers evidence that all three metals can produce, in advanced age, manifestations of neurobehavioral dysfunction associated with neurodegenerative disease. Among the critical unresolved questions is timing; that is, during which periods of the lifespan, including early development, do environmental exposures lay the foundations for their ultimate effects?

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