Many people  are concerned about the increase in chemicals we have discovered and put on the market  in the last 50 years or so.     These chemicals have found their way into many common household items.

One of the groups of chemicals people are concerned about is  surfactants.  Surfactants are a detergent widely used to clean surfaces of both water based and oil based soils.

 In  1970  we began to phase out phosphates from dishwasher  and laundry cleaning solutions.    The reason we were given  was to prevent environmental damage.     This was  questionable as the largest users of phosphate is farmers  and their use of phosphates has not changed.    In addition much of the phosphate used in residents  winds up in wastewater treatment plants where it can easily be removed.   

In any case the use of phosphates  has been replaced by  surfactants which are very good  cleaning solutions.      Surfactants are even used as a food additives.    

 Perhaps it is coincidence that when phosphate were phased out of our homes an  increase in Alzheimer's began to appear.   From 1970 on the rate of Alzheimer's disease has doubled every 10 years with woman accounting for twice as many cases as men.        

Alzheimers affects the brain.   Our bodies try to protect the brain from toxic materials  by a blood brain barrier.    This barrier keeps  water soluble toxic materials from the brain while allowing oil soluble materials to pass through.    

The interesting thing is when physicians  need to introduce a chemical into the brain they need to  overcome this blood brain barrier.     This is where surfactants come into play.   They are added to medications because they overcome the blood brain and allow  chemicals pass into the brain.             
This in itself is a good thing but it does seem to warn us as about the power of surfactants.    Perhaps we should use then with a due amount of caution but we do not.    Not only do we use surfactants  in laundry detergents as well as dishwasher detergents but we even classify them as food additives.    One example is Hood Ice cream which lists Polysorbate 80 ( a surfactant)  as an ingredient.    

All this leads me to question if Alzheimer's is really a brain disease.    Is it possible that Alzheimer's results from deterioration of the blood brain barrier and this deterioration allows toxic  materials into the brain.     It may be that it is the over use of surfactants that is destroying our blood brain barrier and this leads to Alzheimer's.

It is interesting that women with their higher incidence of Alzheimer's are exposed to more surfactants than men are.    And then the fact that this disease has been increasing since the 70's  seems to indicate it is due to some type of new material introduced into our environment.    All this makes surfactants suspect.  

Allan Rydberg

links to phospate based detergents.