The guard

The rate of Parkinson’s is skyrocketing. A common chemical can be to blame

Researchers believe one factor is a chemical used in dry cleaning and household products like shoe polishes and carpet cleaners. “The EPA estimates that 250 million pounds of TCE are used annually in the US.” Photo: Justin Kase / Alamy Stock Photo When asked about the future of Parkinson’s disease in the US, Dr. Ray Dorsey: “We’re at the tip of a very, very big iceberg.” Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of Ending Parkinson Disease, believes a Parkinson’s epidemic is on the horizon. Parkinson’s is already the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world. In the US, the number of people with Parkinson’s has increased 35% in the past 10 years, says Dorsey. “We believe it will double again in the next 25 years.” Most Parkinson’s cases are considered idiopathic – they lack a clear cause. However, researchers increasingly believe that one factor is environmental exposure to trichlorethylene (TCE), a chemical compound used in industrial degreasing, dry cleaning, and household products such as some shoe polishes and carpet cleaners. So far, the clearest evidence of TCE’s risk to human health comes from workers exposed to the chemical in the workplace. For example, a 2008 peer-reviewed study in the Annals of Neurology found TCE to be “a risk factor for parkinsonism.” A study from 2011 confirmed these results. It found that the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in people exposed to trichlorethylene (TCE) in the workplace increased six-fold. Dr. Samuel Goldman of the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, California, who co-directed the study, which appeared in the Annals of Neurology Journal, wrote, “Our study confirms that common environmental contaminants can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s, which has a sizable public health Effects. “Based on such studies, the US Department of Labor issued a guide to TCE saying,” The board recommends […] It is believed that exposures to carbon disulfide (CS2) and trichlorethylene (TCE) cause, contribute, or worsen parkinsonism. “TCE is a carcinogen that has been linked to renal cell carcinoma, cervical cancer, liver cancer, biliary tract, lymphatic system and male breast tissue, and fetal heart defects, among others. The well-known relationship with Parkinson’s is often overlooked as exposure to TCE can be decades prior to the onset of the disease. While some exposed people can get sick quickly, others may unwittingly work or live in contaminated sites for most of their lives before developing symptoms of Parkinson’s. Those near the Superfund sites on the National Priorities List (sites known to be contaminated with hazardous substances such as TCE) are at particularly high risk of exposure. For example, Santa Clara County, California is not only home to Silicon Valley, but also 23 Superfund locations – the highest concentration in the country. The Google Quad Campus is on one such website. For several months in 2012 and 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that company employees were inhaling unsafe TCE levels in the form of toxic fumes rising from the floor below their offices. While some countries heavily regulate TCE (its use is banned in the EU without special authorization), the EPA estimates that 250 million lb of the chemical is still used annually in the US and that more than 2 million lb of it was in the EU in 2017 The environment was released from industrial sites that contaminate the air, soil and water. It is estimated that TCE is currently present in about 30% of US groundwater (the nonprofit environmental working group has created its own map of TCE contaminated water locations nationwide), despite researcher Briana de Miranda, a toxicologist studying TCE at the university Alabama at the Birmingham School of Medicine says, “We are underestimating how many people are exposed to TCE. It’s probably a lot more than we suspect. “According to EPA regulations, it is“ safe ”that TCE is present in drinking water in a maximum concentration of five parts per billion. In severe cases of contamination, such as those that occurred at Camp Lejeune, a North Carolina marine corps, between the 1950s and late 1980s, it was believed that people were exposed to up to 3,400 times the contaminants allowed by safety standards. A memorial known as “Babyland” honors the children of military personnel who died after they or their pregnant mothers were exposed to TCE-tainted water while staying at the base. While De Miranda says researchers don’t believe that low levels of TCE in drinking water are specific enough to cause disease, Dorsey doesn’t think it is an exaggeration to say that US groundwater could give people Parkinson’s disease. “Numerous studies have linked well water to Parkinson’s disease, and those cases are not just TCE, but pesticides like paraquat,” he says, referring to a deadly herbicide that the US has been leaking into despite its leak still use the EU. Brazil and China. Using activated carbon filtration devices (like Brita filters) can help reduce the TCE in drinking water. However, bathing in contaminated water, as well as inhaling vapors from toxic groundwater and soil, can be far more difficult to avoid. According to De Miranda, policies and effective government intervention are vital when it comes to testing, monitoring and remediation of TCE-contaminated sites. It is also important to raise awareness of the role of TCE in increasing Parkinson’s rates. Not only will it continue to adversely affect people’s health if the problem is not addressed, it will exacerbate the adult home care crisis, where 50 million Americans are already responsible for caring for loved ones who are sick as a result of slow Parkinson’s disease , progressive degeneration is characterized and doing so has no cure. In May 2020, Minnesota became the first state to ban TCE. New York followed suit last December, as did other states, especially as federal action on the matter lagged. Given the adverse health effects of TCE, which have been documented in the Journal of the American Medical Association since 1932, the United States has long since stopped using TCE and better protecting its civilian population from dangerous chemicals that endanger lives. Adrienne Matei is a freelance journalist