Study links refrigerant, degreasing chemical to increased risk of Parkinson's disease

Thursday, November 17, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: trichloroethylene, Parkinson's, health news

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(NaturalNews) A study recently published in the journal The Annals of Neurology has identified a link between trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical solvent used in refrigerants and metal degreasing solutions, and increased risk of Parkinson's disease. Based on their analysis, researchers found that those exposed to TCE in the workplace are six times more likely than those not exposed to develop Parkinson's.

Dr. Samuel M. Goldman and his colleagues from the Parkinson's Institute collected data from the American military's twin registry to compare the effects of TCE exposure to rates of Parkinson's. The team examined 99 twin pairs where one twin had Parkinson's and the other did not, with the average age of the twins being 65 years old.

Using a questionnaire, the team asked both twins to share their job histories, hobbies, and any other activities or work involvement that may have exposed them to TCE. Upon analysis, the team discovered a 600 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson's in individuals exposed to TCE compared to those not exposed, as well as an increased risk among those exposed to various other chemical solvents like tetrachloride (CCl4) and perchloroethylene (PERC).

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of individuals against the use of dangerous chemicals, explains that exposure to TCE is also linked to respiratory illness, nervous system disorders, birth defects, and cancer. Additionally, the group adds that there are many safer alternatives to TCE that effectively clean and degrease metal without the toxic side effects -- so why is this particular chemical still in use? (

PERC and CCl4 are no better. The 2010 President's Cancer Panel report identified PERC as a carcinogenic substance that can also cause liver damage and neurological problems ( CCl4 has also been identified in a US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Report on Carcinogens as a cancer-causing chemical (

"Exposure to specific solvents may increase risk of PD (Parkinson's disease)," write the authors in their study interpretation. "TCE is the most common organic contaminant in groundwater, and PERC and CCl4 are also ubiquitous in the environment. Our findings require replication in other populations with well-characterized exposures, but the potential public health implications are substantial."

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