ANORTH-EAST worker who died of Alzheimer's disease was found to have high levels of aluminium in his brain, according to researchers.
Researchers at Keele University, in North Staffordshire, said it was the first time scientists had been able to link an individual who was exposed to aluminium at work and died of Alzheimer's disease with high levels of aluminium in the brain.
Aluminium is a neurotoxin and occupational exposure to it has been implicated in neurological disease, including Alzheimer's disease, but this finding is believed to be the first record of a direct link.
In 2003, a 58-year-old unidentified man from the North-East was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Ten years earlier, he had begun to work with a material used as insulation in the nuclear fuel and space industries. This exposed him to aluminium sulphate dust on a daily basis over eight years.
A dust mask was supplied but within a short time of starting the work the man complained of headaches, tiredness and mouth ulcers.
By 1999 he started to have memory problems and depression. After his death, aged 66, in 2011, an examination confirmed advance stage Alzheimer's disease. There followed the most comprehensive ever investigation of the aluminium content of the frontal lobe of an individual.
Professor Chris Exley, of The Birchall Centre, at Keele University, said: "The results showed unequivocally that the frontal lobe contained an average aluminium content which was at least four times higher than might be expected."