Parkinson’s Disease and It’s Ongoing Chemical Warfare
Posted Nov 19 2013 11:35pm
An article appeared on a Facebook post one evening a little while back, in regards to a study conducted by researchers as to the link between PD and a common organic contaminant called trichloroethylene. Similar to this contaminant, also known as TCE, is another chemical known as perchloroethylene, or PERC.
Here are some excerpts of that study, originally posted in November of 2011 at CNN Health's blog, The Chart :
…TCE, is associated with a sixfold increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a new study published Monday in the Annals of Neurology. TCE is a common organic contaminant that pollutes groundwater, soil, and air.
…another man-made chemical PERC, is associated with a tenfold increased risk of Parkinson's. Both chemicals are found in metal degreasers, metal cleaners, paint, spot removers, and carpet-cleaning fluids.
To conduct the study, Goldman and his team identified six specific solvents previously suspected to be related to the development of Parkinson's, two of which were TCE and PERC. They then reached out to 99 all-male pairs of twins, each composed of one twin with Parkinson's and one without. The twins were all male because they were part of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council World War II Veteran Twins Registry that was founded in the 1960s using military records.
Goldman and his team interviewed the twins using detailed job-specific questionnaires to gauge the likelihood of each person being exposed to the predetermined solvents.
“We designed these extremely detailed interviews so that we didn't have to rely on the memory or the knowledge of the respondent,” explains Goldman.
For example, if one of the study participants said he used to work as an aircraft mechanic in the 1950s, Goldman and his team would question the participant about the different duties or machinery the job involved.
“We know the geographic locations where [each participant] worked, the decade, and what they did so we can say, 'OK – we know that with someone who worked in the 1950s, in a plant with air plane engines, and they were working with the degreasing process, there is a high likelihood that person was exposed to TCE.'”
By working with twins, Goldman and his team were able to account for genetic and lifestyle factors and focus on the job differences between each brother, one of whom had Parkinson's. They found that exposure to TCE, PERC, and to a lesser extent another chemical known as carbon tetrachloride, were all associated with an increased risk of the neurodegenerative disease.
Goldman says that single finding could have major public health implications given how ubiquitous these chemicals, particularly TCE, are in the environment.
“These results need to be replicated,” says Goldman. “Even though we have this single epidemiologic study, it's something that needs to be studied quickly.”
That sense of urgency is reinforced by the Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision to classify TCE as a known human carcinogen. In an email to CNN, a spokesman for the EPA says the agency believes there is no “acceptable” level of the chemical in groundwater because of its designation as a carcinogen. However, the agency has set a maximum standard of five parts per billion (ppb) to help measure and enforce the amount of TCE in water supplies around the country.
“Clean water is critical to the health and prosperity of every American community and a fundamental concern to every American family,” the EPA spokesman wrote to CNN.
The findings in Goldman's study support an emerging line of thought among Parkinson's researchers that the disease is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
“In Parkinson's disease, research has been pointing in the direction supporting the notion that genetics loads the gun, and the environment pulls the trigger,” says Dr. Michael S. Okun, medical director of the National Parkinson Foundation.
“This may make the investigation of pesticides, toxins, and trauma very important to understanding what leads to this disease.”
Goldman agrees and says more research needs to be done to identify potential environmental triggers like TCE.
As stated previously, the article above was originally released on November 4th, 2011 and was reposted on Facebook by a Parkinson's group a few weeks back. What I find interesting is, “Perc, however, was incidentally the first chemical to be classified as a carcinogen by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (a classification later withdrawn)”. This statement (that PERC was the first chemical to be classified as a carcinogen) according to Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrachloroethene) was made years prior to this study (at least before 1993). California declared perchloroethylene a toxic chemical in 1991, and its use will become illegal in that state in 2023 – 10 more years).
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer , TCE has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen, meaning – it is a suspected human carcinogen. TCE is also known to be a central nervous system depressant.
So, it seems to me that there is more to this than the Consumer Product Safety Commission first wanted the public to be aware of. When researching this further, the informational sites I was directed to (three separate sites) had all removed their information and the pages were dead with no redirection.
However, there is good news…
The Michael J Fox Foundation is currently (2013) involved in research in regards to TCE and PERC and the role it may very likely be playing in some people with PD. This project will lay the ground work for a future investigation [in relevance to diagnosis/treatment of PD]. The future study will determine whether exposure to the chlorinated solvents TCE or PERC increases the risk of developing PD. Better understanding of the role of chlorinated solvents in PD risk may allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment of PD, as well as the possibility of preventing PD in people at risk.
FYI — TEC and/or PERC is found in the following products:
By the mid-1930s, the dry cleaning industry had adopted PERC as the ideal solvent. A recent study conducted at Georgetown University shows that 'PERC is retained in dry-cleaned clothes and that PERC levels increase with repeat cleanings.' Makes you want to get those non-dry cleaning garments, eh? In all fairness, I did read that the dry cleaning industry is in the process of replacing PERC with other chemicals. Better? Time will tell. I did find that TCE and PERC is still used alongside one another in some makings for what we call styrofoam – the kind you eat out of and coffee cups from which you drink (most are paper now, however).
PERC also appears in some consumer readily available products including paint strippers and spot removers and according to ScienceRay , it is used in the production of chlorofluorocarbons and rubber coatings, and by textile mills, vapor degreasing and metal cleaning companies. It can also be added to aerosol sprays, printing inks, adhesives, sealants, polishes, lubricants, and silicones, and occasionally white correction fluid and shoe polish.
So, when you're thinking about life and how PD has come to play a big part in it… think of the trips to the dry cleaners, the degreasers you used to remove all the oil and grime from making a living as a mechanic, or the solvents used to clean your carpets. It kind of gives chemical warfare a new twist, doesn't it?