Alzheimers + Acid Rain = Berylium?
Is Berylium the real culprit in these two cases? Berylium a light toxic
metal and yet practically the twin sister of Aluminium. Could Science in its
race to specialize have forgotten one of the basic chemical facts? Let me
tell you how I came to consider this possibility.
I would like to recount a series of curious coincidences. The first concerns
acid rain. Several years ago, I read many articles about the trees in the
Black Forest of Germany. It seemed the trees were dying. The tops of the
trees would die first and eventually the entire tree would die. The affected
trees had very high levels of aluminum. I associated the tops of the trees
and Alluminum perhaps mistakenly. The trees were also attacked by insects.
Most of the scientists at the time concluded that the trees were weakened
by pulses of acid rain that leached the aluminum out of the soil and this
then made the trees vulnerable to attacks by insects. It seemed so logical
that if the trees had enormous levels of aluminum that this would perhaps
choke off other nutrients. I don’t know any one tried to test this by giving
trees massive doses of aluminum to see if this element really weakened the
trees. Normally trees are exposed to Aluminum every day without harmful effects.
Some suggested that the acid stressed the tree or that there was a lack of
nutrients, etc. Somehow it was concluded thatAluminum itself was innocent.
However it was proved that the forest degradation was the fault of the acid
rain and without such pulses of acidity the trees would be healthy. Nowadays,
acid rain is not the cause célèbre any more. One would almost
think that the problem had been solved
Okay, now let’s take a look at Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimers and Aluminum
The link with Alzheimers and aluminum is clearly marked but no
less puzzling. In the early nineties there were a plethora of articles on
the relationship between Alzheimers and Aluminum. I think I read an issue
of Discover Magazine where there were articles on both Alzheimers and Aluminum
and acid rain. This set me wondering if there was there some link between
the two problems? It is easy to see where they resemble.
Like the trees Alzhemers patients have high levels of aluminum in their
brains. (The tops go first.) There are numerous articles which seem to indicate
that high levels of aluminum in the water supply means increased incidence
of Alzheimers in the general populace. Therefore just like the trees the
water is the source of the excess aluminum. At the time it seemed like Allumium
might be the key to Alzhiemer's even to its prevention.
Today in Alzhemer's research aluminum has been more or less exonerated
as the culprit. As a matter of fact to even suggest that Aluminum is implicated
in Alzhemer's is met with ridicule scorn. Yet at one time the scientific community
was sure that Alluminum was implicated. To explain why Aluminum was concidered
the "bad boy" you have to look at the past.
Alzhemers patients have characteristic pattern to their deterioration.
They go through stages losing more and more of their memories and abilities.
Kidney patients undergoing dialysis used to undergo the same symptoms when
aluminum hydroxide (Al OH) was given to prevent clotting.(I am pretty sure
that was the reason that Al OH was injected). When animals were injected
with Al OH their symptoms too, mimicked Alzhemers. But here’s the rub: When
the kidney patients no longer had injections of aluminum hydroxide their
symptoms disappeared. When the lab animals that had been injected with
aluminum hydroxide were dissected they showed none of the characteristic
damage that Alzheimer patients have in their brains. Alzheimer's patients
develop bundles or warped areas in their brains and holes as well. But while
many worked to discover how Alluminum could cause such damage other than
its role of indicator of the disease, they did not succeed. There
doesn’t seem to any way to use an aluminum compound to cause the same damage
found in Alzhemers patients. Let’s look at the last piece of the puzzle.
Beryllium Aluminum’s Evil Twin:
Alchemists were the precursors of modern chemists. In searching
for gold they seemed to find everything else. While perhaps not understanding
what they found Alchemists in the Middle Ages did discover many compounds
and elements. Certainly to my mind one of their greatest achievements was
deducing the existance of Beryllium. Why is that so amazing? . They thought
everything could be explained by combinations of fire, earth, air, water
etc. (sounds a little like up, down, strange, and charm Quarks in mordern
physics.) Besides, not really understanding what an element was, two
elements Alluminum and Beryllium resemeble each other physically (light grey
metals) and chemically. Similar in chemical properties? This is a little strange
since Beryllium has the atomic number 4 and Aluminum has the atomic number
11. They are no where near each other in the periodic table of the elements.
The periodic table of elements, may I remind you, is arranged according
to « families » in columns. Usually this works quite well, for
example; the inert gases all have pretty much the same properties, in short
if the element is in the same column as an other element these two elements
will generally have the same properties or similar characteristics. This
system does not work for Beryllium and Aluminum. This may be due to Alluminum's
ability to mimic other elements.(see Aluminum
Clusters Exhibit Multiple Personalities) These two metals react in the
same way to the other elements even though they are not in the same column.
This means that if you add aluminum something or other to a solution and
you get a white parciptate then if you add beryllium something or other to
the same solution you again get the same white parciptate. As a matter of
fact, there is an uncanny resemblance between Aluminum and Beryllium.This
was common knowledge in the beginning of the twentyth century.*1. As far as I know they differ in only one common reaction:
when Aluminum Hydroxide (remember that compound?) is in solution and you
introduce carbon dioxide a (catalyst) the aluminum particulate out into
a grey compound Al (OH)3 . In the same situation Beryllium Hydroxide
would remain in the form Be OH and stay in solution .To get the Beryllium
out of solution you have to change the ph to 12 (Basic as opposed to acidic)
and you get a Be(OH)2 particulate.
Did the ancient alchemists discover this reaction? No they didn’t. Well
then how did they differentiate Aluminum which they knew since the time of
the ancient Greeks and Romans as alum which was used as an astringent and
as a preparation for dyeing fabrics, from Beryllium compounds? By taste,
you see to them Beryllium compounds especially sulphates taste sweet. By
the way, Beryllium is also known as Glucinium or Glucinum from the Greek;
glykys: sweet) And it was finally discovered (in oxide form) by Nicolas
Louis Vauquelin in 1798.
Please don't try to taste Beryllium compounds for most substances
(especially salts) made from Beryllium are poisonous, decidedly so.
A Brief Industrial History of Beryllium Poisoning
During the 1930s, it was discovered that beryllium extended the lifetime
of fluorescent light bulbs. "During the following decade, the hard,
grayish metal was identified as the cause of a potentially debilitating, sometimes
deadly disease characterized by shortness of breath and inflammation, swelling,
and scarring of the lungs." HealthAtoZ
In the early days not much care was taken to control Beryllium dust in the
factories. The results were deadly.Many who got Beryllium dust in their
lungs died although not all. There may be a genetic factor to this disease
as in the cas of Alzhiemer's. At any rate the severity and rapidity of this
industrial disease, Chronic Beryllium Disease
actually made it easier to believe claims later made for asbestosis.
Today because of its light weight many airplane parts are made from alloys
of Beryllium. Actually Beryllium is everywhere in modern life: from dentestry,electronics,
fiber optics,ceramics, bicycle frames, golf clubs, mirrors, to the atomic
So many people have been exposed. Beryllium is a alkaline metals and not
found free in nature because it is very reactive. Humans like other
animals on this planet were never exposed to pure Beryllium in nature.
Thus they never use it in their biological processes and have not evolved
to handle Beryllium or remove it from their bodies. Indeed, Beryllium
metal powder is classified as a Class
B Poison. Workers who got Beryllium dust embedded in their skin had to
have the skin removed and new skin grafted in its place.This skin
irritation , I remembered caused, if left untreated weird bundles and
holes in the skin surface. (Sound familiar?). Although, I recently read
discriptions results of this skin disease that were more like warts and ulcers.
Still you get the picture. On a final note Berylliosis manifests itself in
both acute and chronic forms and can wait twenty or thirty years to appear.
A long slow developping disease like Alzhiemer's which is not proof but grounds
for furthur or at minium some research
Why Was Berylium Overlooked?
One of the reasons that I have rewritten this piece
is that there appears to have been no research done on this topic since 1997
when I first broached this idea. One factor was that my article was written
before I was aware of search engines like yahoo and google so I had to rely
totally on my memory and frankly I got many details wrong. Second, it many
be that some heretofore common knowledge has been lost and is only just being
rediscovered. I am speaking of course of the resemblance of Alluminum and
Beryllium. Finally, how do I know that Berylium has never been concidered
in the case of Alzhiemer's ? I can't be sure but by using Google Scholar
I have found no trace of Berylium and Alzhiemer's except in my previous article
Alzhiemer's Acid Rain and Alluminum. As you can see in the title even I forgot
to mention Beryllium. Some people still think that I wrote about Alluminum.
To this day I love short stories written by Edgar Allen Poe or O Henry.
They always saved the best or revealed the secret at the end of the story.
However, as I know to my regret, that is not the case with Scientific articles
or even web pages.
Up to this point in the article I have invented nothing, this
has been common knowledge or maybe arcane knowledge. Now I would like to
speculate on this subject. Let’s just take the example of acid rain. No
one seems to know the exact mechanism causing the death of those trees.
Well, I assume that if acid rain leaches Aluminum out of the soil it would
have the same effect on Beryllium. Remember they are chemical Gemini. Once
Beryllium entered the tree the tree would have the same chance as the industrial
workers exposed to Beryllium dust, or to phrase it differently no chance.
Now let’s suppose for an instant that the Beryllium is in the form of Be
OH. If the tree sensed the excess presence of this compound would you think
that the tree might react as it would to too much Al OH and try to remove
it from solution? How would the tree do that? This again is pure speculation
but I assume that it would use the simplest method which would be to introduce
carbon dioxide into the solution . Of course this would not work on the
Beryllium hydroxide but any Aluminum Hydroxide would particulate out. Over
time you would end up with increasing amounts of Aluminum deposited in
the tree and a small amount of Beryllium Hydroxide constantly circulating
in the tree. Ironically this process might take out of system the Aluminum
Hydroxide that the tree needs for everyday reactions.
Now it is time to look at Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps the same
thing occurs. I assume that the culprit is minute quantities of Beryllium
Hydroxide that is behind the blood brain barrier. I assume that the brain
again reacts as if there were too much Aluminum Hydroxide and again tries
to particulate out the excess. Again you would have large deposits of Aluminum.
Perhaps as well the Beryllium would unlike the Aluminum Hydroxide cause
damage to the brain. Maybe the Beryllium would cause similar bundles and
holes in the brain like it does on the skin in its pure state.
This seems to explain everything from acid rain to Alzheimer’s disease.
Wait, I could be wrong about Beryllium Hydroxide, after all it is only
a hunch. It could be another Beryllium compound. But, I think I have made
a case for a little study on the matter. It is true that these are nothing
but wild guesses on my part. The argument for beryllium and acid rain
would seem to be easy to ascertain. As to Alzheimer’s there are some questions
that still puzzle me. It is easy to see that over a long life you could
pickup infinitesimally small amounts on Beryllium and when you are sixty
or eighty the result would be Alzheimer’s. But there is a problem and that
is that children who have mongolism develop Alzheimer’s at forty. However
there are indications that Beryllium exposure can alter or cause chromosone
damage. (See XXXXXXX)
So I am wrong right? Well if Alzheimer’s were simply genetic then the amount
of Aluminum in the water supply would not indicate increased risk for the
disease, but it does. Oh well, maybe exposure to Beryllium Hydroxide has
some sort of relationship with mongolism?
Does any one want to give me some lab space and a lab smock?