Prion diseases are considered to be transmissible. The existence of sporadic forms of prion diseases such as scrapie implies an environmental source for the infectious agent. This would suggest that under certain conditions the prion protein, the accepted agent of transmission, can survive in the environment. We have developed a novel technique to extract the prion protein from soil matrices. Previous studies have suggested that environmental manganese is a possible risk factor for prion diseases. We have shown that exposure to manganese is a soil matrix causes a dramatic increase in prion protein survival (similar to 10 fold) over a two year period. We have also shown that manganese increases infectivity of mouse passaged scrapie to culture cells by 2 logs. These results clearly verify that manganese is a risk factor for both the survival of the infectious agent in the environment and its transmissibility.