Cognitive decline, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease: Environmental contributors and potential pathways to prevention

January 14, 2020
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

In this webinar featuring the newest and fifth chapter of A Story of Health eBook, meet 72-year-old Sam, his family, and friends as they try to understand Sam’s apparent cognitive decline that begins after his wife dies and what might be done to address it. Along with Sam’s doctors they explore his childhood environmental exposures, later workplace and neighborhood exposures, his current diet and social connections as they ask if his “forgetfulness” is due to normal aging or something more serious. Expert speakers including Drs. Samuel Goldman, Ted Schettler and Mark Miller addressed environmental influences on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and the role of gene-environment interactions. They addressed exposures to solvents, pesticides, air pollution, and lead, across the life course. The effects of psychosocial and socioeconomic stressors and the latest science on pathways of neurodegeneration were covered briefly. Dr. Goldman addressed head injuries, cognitive impairment and Parkinson’s. The webinar featured graphics and illustrations from the eBook to illustrate where and how we live, work, and play can influence health across the lifespan.

“Sam’s story” includes numerous options for interventions and actions for healthy aging and is available free online in an easy-to read PDF format. Written for health care providers, health advocates, policy makers and others concerned about environmental influences on healthy aging, the story includes links to additional resources and scientific references on each page. Health professionals can register for free continuing education credits (CE) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with ATSDR hosting the CE accreditation pages.

Samuel Goldman, MD, MPH is Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the Division of Occupational & Environmental Medicine and the Department of Neurology, and a Staff Physician at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.  He was co-Director of the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit from 2017-2019. Dr. Goldman received his medical degree from the University of Texas, Houston (1987). He trained in Preventive Medicine and earned a Masters of Public Health in Environmental Health Science from the University of California, Berkeley (1993).  Dr. Goldman has published extensively on the epidemiology of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, with a focus on environmental risk factors. Among these are pesticides, solvents, smoking and traumatic brain injury, and the interaction of these risk factors with genetic susceptibility factors.

Mark Miller, MD, MPH, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He is also the co-director of the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) and the director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at California Environmental Protection Agency. He received his medical degree and completed a pediatric residency at Michigan State University. He received his Master’s in Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences from UC Berkeley and completed a residency with the California Department of Health Services in Preventive Medicine. Dr. Miller is part of the development team and a primary author of A Story of Health, an award winning multi-media E-book and CE course on environment and health. He worked with Physicians for Social Responsibility to develop the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit, a resource to assist clinicians to incorporate preventive environmental health messages into routine pediatric care. 

Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, is the Science Director of Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN). He received his MD from Case-Western Reserve University and a master's degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public H
ealth. He practiced medicine for many years in New England. Ted has worked extensively with community groups and non-governmental organizations throughout the US and internationally, addressing many aspects of human health and the environment. He has served on advisory committees of the US EPA and National Academy of Sciences.

Ted is co-author of Generations at Risk: Reproductive Health and the Environment, which examines reproductive and developmental health effects of exposure to a variety of environmental toxicants; In Harm's Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development; Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging: With a Closer Look at Alzheimer' and Parkinson's Diseases, and;  A Story of Health eBook and continuing education course. He is the author of The Ecology of Breast Cancer: The Promise of Prevention and the Hope for Healing. 

Among many others, Ted's current projects include active participation in the Health Care Without Harm coalition, contributing to its international campaign to improve the environmental performance of hospitals and other healthcare institutions. Ted and SEHN often work in collaboration with colleagues from other organizations.

This webinar was moderated by Maria Valenti, Director of the Commonweal Health and Environment Literacy Project (HELP). It lasted for 60 minutes and was recorded for our call and webinar archive.