The chemicals in your garage that may raise risk of incurable muscle-wasting disease that killed Stephen Hawking

By Caitlin Tilley, health reporter for Dailymail.Com

12:22 April 16, 2024, updated 12:28 April 16, 2024

  • Pesticides, paint and carpentry supplies may be linked to ALS
  • Storing chemicals in an attached garage showed a stronger link than in a detached garage.
  • READ MORE: Surprising foods full of cancer-causing ‘forever chemicals’

Chemicals in your garage may increase the risk of developing the muscle wasting that killed Stephen Hawking, a study suggests.

Researchers have found that storing chemicals – including gasoline, weed killers, pesticides, paint and carpentry supplies – in a garage attached to the home may be linked to the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

The more chemicals a person had in their garage, the higher the risk of developing an illness whose cause is not yet known.

“Home exposures are an important part of the development of ALS,” said Dr. Stephen Goutman, lead author of the study and associate director of the ALS Center of Excellence at the University of Michigan.

Attached garage storage of chemicals, including gasoline or kerosene, gasoline-powered equipment, and lawn care products, were found to be the top three risk factors. Gasoline or kerosene was linked to a 14 percent increased risk, while gasoline-powered equipment, such as a lawn mower, was linked to a 16 percent increased risk.
Renowned physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76 after living with ALS for more than 50 years.

The CDC estimates that 31,000 Americans are living with ALS; on average, 5,000 new patients are diagnosed each year.

In the UK, this condition is also called motor neurone disease and affects around 5,000 people.

ALS is ccaused by a problem with brain and nerve cells called motor neurons. These cells gradually stop functioning over time. It is unclear why this happens.

Having a close relative with motor neurone disease, or a related condition called frontotemporal dementia, can sometimes mean you are more likely to suffer from it. But in most cases, it’s not a family problem.

“Incredibly high levels” of PFAS found in most US pesticides

Texas researchers found these chemicals in seven out of ten insecticides, but six contained extremely large amounts of a particularly dangerous type that has been strongly linked to cancer.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied more than 600 American participants – 367 with ALS and 255 without.

Participants received a survey about their chemical exposure at home, with questions about what chemicals they stored in their garage and whether their garage was attached to their house or separate.

Most participants reported storing multiple items in their attached garage.

After statistical analysis, they found that chemical storage was significantly associated with ALS risk.

Storage in an attached garage of chemicals including gasoline or kerosene, gasoline equipment and lawn care products were found to be the top three risk factors.

Gasoline or kerosene was linked to a 14 percent increased risk, while gasoline-powered equipment, such as a lawn mower, was linked to a 16 percent increased risk.

Lawn care products were associated with a 15 percent increased risk.

However, storing chemicals in a detached garage did not have as strong an association with risk.

Researchers said this could be due to the flow of air and air pollutants from attached garages into the living space.

“Especially in colder climates, air from the garage tends to rush into the house when the front door is open, and air flows occur more or less continuously through small cracks and openings in walls and floors,” said lead author and professor Stuart Batterman. of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

“So it makes sense that keeping volatile chemicals in an attached garage would have a stronger effect.”

About five to 10 percent of ALS cases are hereditary, according to the ALS Association, while the remaining 90 to 95 percent have no genetic link.

The study was published in the journal Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Details of a deadly disease for which there is no cure

What is this?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurogenerative disorder that affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. It gets progressively worse and causes a significant loss of muscle control in people who suffer from it.


There is no cure for ALS and the disease is fatal, but it progresses at different speeds in different patients.


The first signs of ALS are muscle twitching, limb weakness, and problems swallowing and speaking. Gradually, it deteriorates muscle control and affects an individual’s ability to breathe, move, speak and eat.

Symptoms of ALS are where nerve cells deteriorate in each person and can lead to problems walking, stumbling, and weakness in the knees, ankles, and hands.

It can also lead to problems with muscle cramps and tightness in areas such as the tongue, arms and shoulders. People with ALS have experienced bouts of laughing, crying, and untimely yawning, as well as changes in their thought processes or behavior, according to the clinic.

Risk factors

Among the risk factors that researchers have established for ALS are genetics, because about 10 percent of people diagnosed with the disease received a gene passed down from a parent, which is called hereditary ALS, according to the clinic. Children of people with hereditary ALS have a 50% chance of carrying the gene.

Age is also a factor, as the risk of contracting the disease tends to increase around age 75, with the most common age range being between 60 and 85. In terms of gender, men are more likely to be diagnosed with ALS before age. up to the age of 65, depending on the clinic.

Other factors linked to ALS include smoking and exposure to toxic substances. The clinic reported that the rate of ALS diagnoses among military personnel was higher.


There is no known cause of ALS, according to the Mayo Clinic, and heredity plays a role in a small number of cases.

Lou Gehrig’s disease

In addition to being known as ALS, it is frequently referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Lou Gehrig was a stalwart first baseman for the New York Yankees between 1923 and 1939. He was famous for his strength and durability, earning him the nickname “The Iron Horse” with a record streak of 2,130 consecutive matches.

In a speech on July 4, 1939, at Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium, the baseball player said, “In the last two weeks you’ve heard about a bad break. And yet, today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the planet.

His popularity and fame transcended the sport of baseball. He died two years after his diagnosis, on June 2, 1941.

News Source :
Gn Health

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