Multiple Sclerosis

A study of the prevalence of Multiple Sclerosis and it’s relationship with the natural/geological environments in Ireland.


The hypothesis to be examined by the researcher is that people who have a genetic susceptibility and who have lived their first 15 years in areas underlain by Palaeozoic rocks (300-500 million years old) and are close to radon producing granites or radioactive rocks, are most likely to contact multiple sclerosis.

The Link to the Postal Questionaire is here.

The Research Team

Mr. Eamonn Grennan Principal Researcher Department of Science, IT, Sligo. Dr. Margaret Gilmore Joint Researcher Department of Business and Humanities, IT, Sligo. Mr. Denis Carroll Research Student Department of Science, IT, Sligo.


To examine the relationship between the prevalence of multiple sclerosis and factors increasing exposure to natural radiation within the built/natural environment by compiling a set of maps detailing the areas of high natural radiation, investigating the prevalence of multiple sclerosis on a Geographic Information System and documenting some environmental factors (air/water/sanitation) which may be deduce from a retrospective study.

If a definite association can be shown between the prevalence of multiple sclerosis and the geographical factors, the question arises as to what action can or should be taken. It may be that remedial action would be necessary in buildings which trap excessive radiation or to purity the water supply for prevention of such triggering mechanisms.

An alliance between IT Sligo and multiple sclerosis research would be further Government policy which states that “there is an increased emphasis, both nationally and internationally, on the multi-sectoral approach to health promotion” (Shaping a Healthier Future, Dept. of Health 1994)

The cost of treating one multiple sclerosis patient with Beta-interferon is approximately IR £12,000 per annum. The potential cost effectiveness of this study, which aims to identify connections and develop preventive measures, is evident in both fiscal and human terms.

Project Details

A questionnaire will be designed in consultation with an epidemiologist. The questionnaire will be administered country wide, with the co-operation of multiple sclerosis patients whose consent will be sought thought consultant neurologists, general practitioners, Multiple Sclerosis Society and other support groups. On receipt if completed questionnaires, the number of individuals will be geocoded based on their town land of residence for first 15 years of life. Total numbers will be scaled relative to the completed questionnaires. In parallel with the above work, an extensive examination of all epidemiological data will be undertaken, using published papers, books, internet and international contacts already established with other workers in this field. This data will be related to geological maps of each area. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software will be used to assist in this task. One of the supervisors has extensive experience of GIS use. Final results will be offered for peer review in relevant journals.