Environmental and Occupational Exposures and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in New England

Angeline S. Andrew, Tracie A. Caller, Rup Tandan, Eric J. Duell, Patricia L. Henegan, Nicholas C. Field, Walter G Bradley, Elijah W. Stommel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Background: Recent data provide support for the concept that potentially modifiable exposures are responsible for sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Objective: To evaluate environmental and occupational exposures as risk factors for sporadic ALS. Methods: We performed a case-control study of ALS among residents of New England, USA. The analysis compared questionnaire responses from 295 patients with a confirmed ALS diagnosis to those of 225 controls without neurodegenerative illness. Results: Self-reported job-or hobby-related exposure to one or more chemicals, such as pesticides, solvents, or heavy metals, increased the risk of ALS (adjusted OR 2.51; 95% CI 1.64-3.89). Industries with a higher toxicant exposure potential (construction, manufacturing, mechanical, military, or painting) were associated with an elevated occupational risk (adjusted OR 3.95; 95% CI 2.04-8.30). We also identified increases in the risk of ALS associated with frequent participation in water sports, particularly waterskiing (adjusted OR 3.89; 95% CI 1.97-8.44). Occupation and waterskiing both retained independent statistical significance in a composite model containing age, gender, and smoking status. Conclusions: Our study contributes to a growing body of literature implicating occupational-and hobby-related toxicant exposures in ALS etiology. These epidemiologic study results also provide motivation for future evaluation of water-body-related risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalNeurodegenerative Diseases
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes



  • Environmental exposure
  • Occupation
  • Toxicant
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this

Andrew, A. S., Caller, T. A., Tandan, R., Duell, E. J., Henegan, P. L., Field, N. C., Bradley, W. G., & Stommel, E. W. (2017). Environmental and Occupational Exposures and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in New England. Neurodegenerative Diseases, 17(2-3), 110-116. https://doi.org/10.1159/000453359