From Mineral Oil and Multiple Sclerosis to Plastics, Nanoparticles, Public, Animal and Environmental Health

When injected directly into tissue these particles become even more dangerous because they bypass normal digestive and respiratory filters, trapping the particles in the tissue and sometimes resulting in a permanent inflammatory effect.

Polymer nanoparticles have even been developed by other scientists exploring their use as plastic antibodies to seize dangerous materials in the body. (8). Many new vaccines and cancer and other drug-delivery treatments are also being developed using constructed nanoparticles.

As a veterinarian I am familiar with demyelinating diseases like canine distemper and suspect that lipophilic—fat seeking—and hydrophobic—water-repelling petrochemicals in mineral oil may damage the insulating fatty myelin sheath over the nerves, a process called demyelinization. I checked with one of several manufacturers of USP Grade mineral oil in the U.S. and found that it was tested for PAHs and sulfur compounds. (9). I wonder what other petrochemicals were not identified or known in this complex petrochemical “mineral oil”. Regardless of how much or little of these derivative chemicals are present at all, they are permitted at levels of toxicity tolerance determined by industrial toxicologists, law and policy makers and American standards of purity are lower than those in Europe. Is there any consideration of bioaccumulation as the human body absorbs these hydrocarbons and fat solvents?

Many PAHs have toxic, mutagenic and/or carcinogenic properties (10). PAHs are highly lipid soluble and thus readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract of mammals. They are rapidly distributed in a wide variety of tissues with a marked tendency for localization in body fat. Metabolism of PAHs occurs via the cytochrome P450-mediated mixed function oxidase system with oxidation or hydroxylation as the first step. The oxidative impact on cells may cause a pathological opening of the permeability transition pore and cause mitochondrial dysfunction which may lead to MS that may not be simply an autoimmune disease. (11).

The plausible hypothesis that there will be a significant decline in the incidence and severity of multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases and neuromas when governments limit the consumer use of mineral oil and advise strongly against frequent cutaneous application should be put to the test. Like some other demyelinating neuropathies, multiple sclerosis is a multifactor, pluricausal disease for which there is no solution beyond applying the precautionary principle of best prevention first. For instance, individuals exposed to paint, varnish, and other solvents are 50% more likely to develop multiple sclerosis. Individuals who carry genes making them more susceptible to multiple sclerosis that have been exposed are 7 times more likely to develop MS, if those same individuals have been smokers the risk is 30 times higher. (12). Public health and consumer and environmental protection go hand in hand but are too often divided by vested interests and conflicting values and opinions.

After reading several other research reports (notably refs 13-17) on petrochemical products from a host of items from plastic water bottles, grocery bags and styrofoam cups and packing materials to disposable pens and lighters it is evident that they are pervasive and a top environmental and public health issue. Polystyrene plastic cups break down into small particles that become a magnet for toxic chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in PAH polluted sea and fresh water. Plastics disintegrate into microparticles, now present in many drinking water sources, and in to nanoparticles that can pass though the gut wall and possibly cross the blood-brain barrier. The two components in plastics that experts are most concerned about are phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA), which are often referred to as endocrine disruptors because of their ability to affect estrogen and testosterone levels in humans. They also appear to have the potential to impact the development of the brain and reproductive organs in developing fetuses. Used to produce polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, BPA is found in many drinking containers, the lining of most food and beverage cans (including soda cans), bottle caps, plastic cutlery, plastic food storage containers, toys, dental sealants, some dental composites, water pipes, eyeglass lenses, and more.

The source of many anthropogenic diseases from obesity and dysbiosis to multiple sclerosis and cancer, may well come from these kinds of petroleum products along with micro- and nanoparticles in the air we breathe from multiple sources including coal-fired power plants, gasoline-driven vehicle exhaust and from plastic-containing garbage incineration. To these we should add indoor microfiber particle “dust” from synthetic carpet and upholstery materials (generally treated with endocrine-disrupting flame -retardant chemicals because they are highly inflammable), which also contaminate the environment via the laundry wastewater from synthetic clothing materials. Run-off from roofing and road and parking lot materials can be added to the “dirty laundry” facing many communities. Plastic sheeting used over soils in gardening, landscaping and food crop production to control weeds poses a leaching problem calling for environmental and food safety determinations. Plastic-derived and other nanoparticles in the air, rain and irrigation water contaminate our food crops, sea foods and livestock feed and thus enter the food chain and much of the food we consume.