A major new study appearing in the journal Annals of Neurology written by a global network of top scientists has found a link between the degreasing solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) and a significantly increased risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease (PD).
That’s the good news.
The bad news is almost one-third of U.S. drinking water is suspected to be contaminated with the disease-causing chemical.
Up to 100 million Americans at risk
Because of TCE’s known toxicity, it’s banned virtually everywhere and has been for almost 40 years…except as a degreasing agent for industrial use with metal parts.
That hasn’t stopped the chemical—outlawed in food and pharmaceutical drugs—from somehow leeching into America’s water supply and presenting a serious health risk for up to 100 million people.
A distinguished co-author of the breakthrough study, Dr. Samuel M. Goldman of The Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, California, explained to BBC News that “Our study confirms that common environmental contaminants may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s, which has considerable public health implications.
“Our findings, as well as prior case reports, suggest a lag time of up to 40 years between TCE exposure and onset of Parkinson’s, providing a critical window of opportunity to potentially slow the disease before clinical symptoms appear.” [Daily Mail]
According to some physicians, PD is an especially hideous disease. Although it’s cause is unknown, the disease attacks the cells in the middle part of the brain causing increasingly acute disability of the motor functions.
It’s thought that exposure to certain chemicals might cause the brain disease that takes up to four decades for the symptoms to appear.
“Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related, including shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. Later, cognitive and behavioral problems may arise, with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep and emotional problems. [The disease] is more common in the elderly with most cases occurring after the age of fifty.” [Wikipedia]
Research involved twins
Studying the population’s exposure to a variety of solvents including TCE, the research focused on 99 American twins: each set of twins had one that suffered from PD and the other symptom free.
A detailed profile was compiled of the sets of twins and their lifestyles including such things as work history, leisure activities, interests and hobbies.The data accumulated would map out the probabilities of the twins’ exposures to toxic solvents and agents.
Of the six solvents tested in the study, three (toluene, xylene and n-hexane) had no link to PD. Two other solvents did pose a risk to those exposed to it, however, and they are identified as perchloroethylene (PERC) and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4).
PERC is causing significant concern among the medical researchers as it is used extensively in the dry cleaning business and also as a degreasing agent.
Study: Solvent exposures and parkinson disease risk in twins