Study links Parkinson’s disease to industrial solvent

A study done in the United States seems to link exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The full article is here.
BBC News – Study links Parkinson’s disease to industrial solvent.

An international study has linked an industrial solvent to Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers found a six-fold increase in the risk of developing Parkinson’s in individuals exposed in the workplace to trichloroethylene (TCE).
Although many uses for TCE have been banned around the world, the chemical is still used as a degreasing agent.

The research was based on analysis of 99 pairs of twins selected from US data records.
Parkinson’s can result in limb tremors, slowed movement and speech impairment, but the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, and there is no cure.
Research to date suggests a mix of genetic and environmental factors may be responsible. A link has previously been made with pesticide use.

The researchers studied pairs of twins, one with Parkinson’s and one who had not developed the disease. Because Parkinson’s appears to have both genetic and environmental factors in its possible causes, selecting twins helps rule out the genetic factors. After examining the life histories of the subjects it became obvious that there was a correlation between exposure to the solvents in question and development of the disease. However correlation does not necessarily prove causation so further research is probably needed.

Something else in the article jumped out at me though.

The study also adjudged exposure to two other solvents, perchloroethylene (PERC) and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), “tended towards significant risk of developing the disease”.

These solvents PERC and Carbon Tetrachloride along with trichloroethylene (TCE) have all been widely used in the Dry Cleaning industry. They are now generally banned in most western countries, but were in common use until recently. Possibly the next line of enquiry might be to look at how often Parkinson’s disease develops in people who own Dry Cleaning shops and compare the results with those for the general population.


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