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International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Volume 2011, Article ID 607543, 11 pages
Review Article

Lead, Manganese, and Methylmercury as Risk Factors for Neurobehavioral Impairment in Advanced Age

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

Received 13 September 2010; Revised 28 October 2010; Accepted 24 November 2010

Academic Editor: Peter Faller

Copyright © 2011 Bernard Weiss. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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?