"Neurologic disorders are among the leading causes of death and illness in the United States. Their causes are poorly understood, but one of the emerging suspected culprits is the substance acrolein, which tends to be significantly elevated in the brains or spinal cords of people who have Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and other neurologic disorders.1–4 A new study adds multiple sclerosis (MS) to the list of disorders potentially affected by this substance.5
Acrolein is produced naturally in the body as a by-product of membrane lipid peroxidation. It also occurs in combustion by-products such as vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, oil- and coal-fired power plant emissions, cooking fumes, and the smoke from burning cigarettes, wood, and plastics. It’s used as a biocide and to manufacture other chemicals and products such as chemical weapons. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined the ubiquitous pollutant is a major source of respiratory damage.6 But information on the neurologic effects of environmental acrolein is scant."