Home garages have been and continue to be sites of cultural and commercial achievement. Think of the rock bands that started in garages. And companies like Apple and Amazon, which Jeff Bezos founded in the garage of his Bellevue, Washington home 30 years ago.

But something more lethal may also be going on in home garages.

New research suggests the deadly nerve disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, may be linked to the strong chemicals homeowners typically store in their attached garages.

Stored gasoline and gasoline powered equipment, as well as solvents, cleaners, paints, lawn care products, pesticides and woodworking supplies, were significantly associated with ALS risk.

Medical investigators at the University of Michigan surveyed more than 600 people, with and without ALS, about the volatile chemicals stored in their residential garages. The researchers found, by statistical analyses, that stored gasoline and gasoline powered equipment such as in a car, motorcycle or chainsaw, as well as solvents, cleaners, paints, lawn care products, pesticides and woodworking supplies, were all significantly associated with ALS risk.

“Especially in colder climates, air in the [attached] garage tends to rush into the house when the entry door is opened, and air flows occur more or less continuously through small cracks and openings in walls and floors,” senior author Stuart Batterman, a professor of environmental health science at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said in a statement.

Storing chemicals in a detached garage, however, did not show as strong of an association with ALS risk, probably because the toxic fumes don't seep into the family living space. The latest building codes, Batterman notes, tackle this problem by specifying measures to reduce or eliminate these air flows in homes.

In 2016, the Michigan research team found that people with ALS had higher concentrations of pesticides in their blood compared to people without the condition. “With each study, we better understand the types of exposures that increase the risk of developing ALS,” said senior author Eva Feldman, director of the ALS Center of Excellence at Michigan and James W. Albers Distinguished University Professor.

“We now need to build on these discoveries to understand how these exposures increase ALS risk. In parallel, we must continue to advocate to make ALS a reportable disease. Only then we will fully understand the array of exposures that increase disease risk.”

The study is published in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration.