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and its relationship to ALS
Contributed by Dennis M. Dowd, MEd.

(ALS) Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or (MND) Motor Neurone Disease are referred to as ALS/MND. PALS is short for People (or a person) with ALS.

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Results of Survey:
The symptoms and effects of organophosphate and ALS are striking. Over fifty responses were received including the scientific community and feedback from the PALS and family members. This paper reviews responses to the Hypothesis.

The target effects of insecticides on turf insects mirror ALS disease. For example, the insecticide Malathion, an Organophosphate (OP), is designed to affect the nervous system of the insect. It inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinestrase (AChE) that breaks down choline, a chemical used to transmit nerve impulses across a junction between nerves. (Cremlyn, R.J.-John Wiley & Son pp123-135) The use of these materials is essential to maintaining a fine athletic turf.

Athletes such as golfers in training and play have higher rates of respiration and consume more calories per unit body weight than normal adults do. At the same time they are exposed to chemicals necessary for fine turf. Just think of how many times in a round of golf one would handle a club, insert and remove a tee, or wipe off the ball followed by something to drink or eat. Secondary contamination provides a method of entry for the chemicals by touch, feel, taste, inhalation and chemical off-gassing.

Lou Gehrig died of ALS on June 2, 1941. After more than 60 years still no one knows specifically what triggers ALS. Or why ALS affected Lou Gehrig, Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Jeff Julian, Steve Shackel, Major Michael Donnelly, Leone Simpson and Matt Dowd-DX Sporadic ALS 01-02.

A preponderance of data exists supporting medical and scientific advancements to cure ALS. All efforts to find a cure are essential. The identification of "Familial" form of ALS is an example of outstanding success. Reducing the ALS afflictions from 8000 (est. ALSTDF) per year to 4000 would present a similar success story by just understanding how ALS starts.

Other reports estimate 3-5000 cases of ALS diagnosed yearly. Jeffery Rothstein, M.D, PhD at Johns Hopkins acknowledges patients are 20 to 50 % into the disease before they are diagnosed. Establishment of a national registry of Familial and Sporadic ALS would be invaluable identifying the actual number and just how big the problem is.

Is there a Decontamination Gene?
Genetics determine who is susceptible to Organophosphates and who is not.

Chemist Dr. Clement Furlong at the University of Washington conducted a study of the organophosphates (OP) exerting their lethal effects by blocking a crucial neurotransmitter called acetylcholin. In this study his group demonstrated PON1 breaks down and destroys the super-lethal component of OP, a chemical called paraoxon.

The enzyme in the blood called paraoxonase or PON 1is different between individuals and therefore relative to differences in insecticide sensitivity. The main role of PON1 appears to be protection from vascular disease and cholesterol metabolism. An alternative function is the inactivation of toxic forms of some nerve agents such as Saran and Soman (OP).

There are two points resulting from the study:
1. People have different genes and are not equally susceptible as a result of the production of paraoxonase.
2. Elements of the populations are genetically vulnerable.

Applying this knowledge to OP depression of the CNS it:
1. Suggests an answer the "random" question of affliction.
2. Indicates an entrance for the initial OP depression of the CNS via a "Decon" Gene.
3. Suggests the time from onset to diagnosis damage to the neuron system may mask the cause/trigger.

Toxic Environmental trigger(s):
Responses to the question of Organophosphates and ALS opened the door to additional "TOXIC" responses. These included environmental, agricultural, Gulf War Illness, and cluster sites.

Guam Fruit Bats a delicacy.
ALS cases in the native population on the Island of Guam was once 200 times higher than in most other populations. The Fruit bat was a delicacy for the native population and the bats ate poisonous nuts from the cycad palm (Cycas circinalis). When the consumption of these fruit bats decreased so did the incidence of ALS in Guam.

This suggests that regular ingestion of sterol glycosides may be involved in neurodegenerative disorders and preventing these (and similar) toxins entering the body can reduce the number of illnesses.

Gulf War Illness:
On December 11, 2001, the Department of defense announced the Government will now pay disability and survivor benefits to Vets and families affected by this illness." For years government officials denied links between particular illnesses and the Gulf War.

The tireless efforts of Tom Donnelly, a Marine Helicopter pilot in Korea, on behalf of his son Major Michael Donnelly who has ALS, were able to get the Government to acknowledge that the neurological illness is linked to his service in the Gulf. (WebMD medical news-review-Dr. Gary Vogin)

Major Donnelly is a decorated a F16 pilot with forty-four combat missions over Iraq in the Gulf War. Major Donnelly's book "Falcons Cry" is a record of his Desert Storm memoirs. In his book, the Major chronicles his career as a "Top Gun." At the same time he looks at the insidious invasion of a delayed-action neurological agent affecting himself and many of his fellow officers and crew members.

In one instance in "Falcons Cry", infantry Major Randy Hebert was a member of part of the force that breached the berms in Kuwait during the ground offensive. He recalls a specific event when an Iraqi SCUD missile hit nearby and the chemical weapons alarms went off.

The windshield of his vehicle misted with an odd spray of something liquid, and he felt a tingling on the skin of his arm. The all-clear signal was sounded and the event was over. Like Major Donnelly, Major Hebert after the war considered them selves relatively healthy although both suffered repeated bouts with flu-like symptoms.

Three years later, Major Hebert was living with his family at Camp LeJune, NC. Fumigation of base housing with Dursban (OP) is standard procedure. Shortly after the Dursban treatment Major Hebert got sick.

Up dated Desert Storm numbers indicate 110,000 various illnesses. Most famous is when General Norman Schwarzkopf came down with prostate cancer immediately after the war. There is no apparent connection between the cancer and the multiple chemical weapons alarm soundings. However, some of the Generals bodyguards, who were out side of the Generals underground bunker (3 stories deep), have been under evaluation for ALS. One was finally diagnosed with spinal AVM, arterio venous malformation.

The Government indicated that Persian Gulf War military personnel may have been exposed to toxic levels of the poison gas Sarin ( an organophosphate) when an Iraqi stockpile at Khamisiyah, Iraq was destroyed by U.S. Forces. Sarin was the terrorist weapon of choice in the 1993 Tokyo subway attack.

"Some veterans may be suffering symptoms related to Sarin exposure." Further," We think that research into possible health effects of OP (Sarin type) compounds is important and we welcome the responsible research," said an official statement released by the Department of Defense. (Sensitivity to Organophosphates Due to Enzyme Paraoxonase (PON1). Laurie Garrett-Excerpts from NEWSDAY article-1996.

What can we apply? This is significant because the Government now may have an interest in identifying the "Decon Gene" to prevent and reduce the number of casualties. With 700,000 troops deployed to the Persian gulf war, 110,000 veterans may have contracted some illness. Or, roughly one in seven may have a "Decon gene" producing a low level of PON1. The low level of PON1 could be genetic, acute, or chronic OP exposure.

Agricultural exposures:
Agricultural workers with ALS responding reported working with OP, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and other pesticides and fungicides with no protection.

Each individual is unique and will have various responses to chemicals. For example, if a population of farmers were exposed to the same amount of chemical, some people might have reactions while others may have no reaction at all.

Susceptibility varies and is influenced by age, gender, health status, genetics, and life style. Small differences in the chemicals structure and predisposition can cause a difference in toxicity. A chemical structure determines:

" How the chemical is metabolized
" The rate at which it is absorbed
" How and where it is captured and stored in the body
" How it is excreted.

Individual reaction to DEET:
One response reported an acute (usually occurs over a short period of time to a relatively high concentration of a substance-effects are both immediate and long-term) exposure individual reaction to DEET.

Upon application the individual complained of a sever skin reaction and was later diagnosed with ALS in April of 2000. The New England Journal of Medicine, July 4, 2002- 347:13-18, determined DEET based products provided complete protection for the longest duration. The 23.8% formulation concentration provided the best protection time up to 301.5 min.

The USEPA warned, "As long as consumers follow the label directions and take proper precautions, insect repellents containing DEET do not present a health concern." The EPA went further to change the label to larger print and warns users to apply "cautiously and sparingly." In stronger action, the EPA is no longer allowing child safety claims on the product label. USEPA-4/28/98
Lessons learned. Read the label.

Cluster sites:
Early in this article the responses indicated a need for a state and national registry for ALS. With out it, the following information is only anecdotal. Albeit compelling when one sees a pattern in an area.

In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health is seeking a $120,000.00 grant from the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry based in Atlanta. The purpose is to study the higher than normal number of cases of ALS, MS, and Hodgkin's disease in Rockland, Hingham, and in Weymouth MA.

These towns surround the Weymouth Naval Air Station. (Boston Sunday Globe -south section 9/1/'02) Also, Middleboro MA, population 19,702, has reported that there are slightly more than two dozen cases of ALS deaths. There are several state Superfund hazardous waste sites in Middleboro.

There appear to be multiple factors that play a role in the onset of ALS, including genetic, environmental, and chemical factors. The passage of time masks the connection between OP contamination and diagnosis of ALS. Let's work to reduce the possible causes for ALS and support forces working on effectiveness and efficiency of treatment for patients today.

Biography of the Author
Dennis M. Dowd, MEd, is a retired Fire Chief, Professor of Fire Science at Middlesex Community College, Bedford Ma, Fire Science instructor at the Massachusetts Fire Fighting Academy, Stow Ma., where he teaches Counter Terrorism courses as well as other fire fighting and leadership skills in Massachusetts. Professor Dowd is a Certified Hazardous Materials Technician, Certified Arborist, Certified Horticulturist and Past President of the Massachusetts Nurserymen's Association.

Toxic Cleaning Products
Many PALS feel that minimising environmental toxins will assist in slowing neurodegeneration. There is evidence that toxic compounds used in and around the home and workplace stress the immune system and may even be the cause of many illnesses.

If one's body is not constantly forced to eliminate and protect against toxins from household cleaning products and other sources it will be better able to deal with illness and infection. A website that suggests non-toxic and environmentally friendly alternatives to normal cleaning products  and also safe alternatives

Toxic Chemicals in Foods
Avoid eating "diet" and "low calorie" foods that contain artificial sweeteners There is ever increasing evidence that aspartame (also called Nutrasweet, etc. ) and other artificial sweeteners, even those claiming to be derived from "natural sugars" (Sucralose, etc.) are toxic and harmful to many bodily organs and functions.

Even candies/sweets recommended for diabetics contain these substances. Many of these sweeteners in diet sodas and "low calorie" diet foods are particularly damaging to the brain and nervous system.

There are a number of articles and a cogent body of research regarding artificial sweeteners

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