Plastics are affecting our environment and possibly even our health in troubling ways – and the tiniest pieces have now been linked to changes in brain proteins associated with certain types of dementia, including Parkinson’s disease.

A team led by researchers from Duke University in the US looked at the relationship between nanoplastics broken down from polystyrene and the protein alpha-synuclein.

A buildup of aberrant forms of this protein has previously been observed in the brains of people with Parkinson’s.

“Parkinson’s disease has been called the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world,” says neurobiologist and senior author Andrew West from Duke University.

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