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What Chemicals Cause Parkinson’s Disease

Toxic Substances That Have Been Linked To Parkinsons Disease

Pesticides Cause Parkinsons Disease

There are numerous environmental toxins that researchers have tied to the neurological disorders known as parkinson disease. Here are some that have been linked:

  • Agent Orange This was a chemical defoliant used in Vietnam that is already tied to cancer. While there is no definitive link with Parkinsons, the VA at least believes that there is a possibility that the two are tied.
  • Solvents Some studies have shown a link between Trichloroethylene, a substance contained in many solvents, and Parkinsons.
  • PCBs polychlorinated biphenyls were extensively used in the 1970s. They have been often found in the brains of people who have suffered from Parkinsons.
  • Pesticides and herbicides -substances such as insecticides, pesticides and herbicides contain chemicals that researchers have strongly linked with higher incidences of Parkinsons. One of the leading contributors is considered to be Paraquat. For information on Paraquat Parkinsons lawsuits, look here.

This Chemical Is Banned In Europe But Common In The Us

Doctors have a difficult time tracing cases of Parkinsons Disease back to their root cause, in no small part because the degenerative neurological condition can be triggered by exposure to chemicals years before any symptoms emerge.

But case numbers have increased drastically in the US over the course of the last decade, University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Ray Dorsey warned The Guardian, and a carcinogen called TCE thats commonly used in household and industrial cleaning products might be to blame.

Scientists first linked TCE to Parkinsons back in 2012, but the compound is often overlooked in studies on the disease because whole decades can pass in between exposure and the onset of symptoms in some cases, according to The Guardian. In the meantime, other causes including gut hormones have been linked to the disease, but an increasing body of evidence continues to point toward chemical exposure. TCE is banned in Europe, but there are no federal restrictions on it in the US, and only Minnesota and New York have banned the compound.

Numerous studies have linked well water to Parkinsons disease, and its not just TCE in those cases, it can be pesticides like paraquat, too, Dorsey told The Guardian.

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Exposure To Volatile Organic Compounds

U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina was established in 1942. In 1982, the Marine Corps discovered specific volatile organic compounds in the drinking water provided by two of the eight water treatment plants on base. Among those were the chemicals perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene , trichloroethylene , 1-2 dichloroethylene , and Benzene.

These compounds are known to have cancer-causing properties and cause birth defects as well as other conditions and neurological diseases. The Center for Disease Control determined that the high concentration of cases was a direct result of the disposal practices of a specific dry cleaner and industrial spills in the area. A report by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry claimed toxic levels existed from 1957 to 1987.

In 2017, again advocates from the former Parkinsons Action Network took to Capitol Hill and advocated for including PD as a presumptive disability and a treatable condition by the VA due to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune. This issue affects me personally because I served there as a veteran of the Marines.

I urge any member of the military or if you were a civilian working at Camp Lejeune to file a claim if you experienced any illness.

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The Genetics Of Parkinsons

A 2020 study including 1,676 people with Parkinsons in mainland China suggested that genes play a role in the development of the condition. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of people with Parkinsons have a family history of the condition.

In fact, a number of specific genes have been linked to the development of Parkinsons.

How do genetics factor into Parkinsons in some families? According to Genetics Home Reference, one possible way is through the mutation of genes responsible for producing dopamine and certain proteins essential for brain function.

Chemical That Triggers Parkinson’s Disease Discovered

What Chemicals Cause Parkinson
Saint Louis University
The key brain chemical that causes Parkinson’s disease has been discovered. This is a breakthrough finding that could pave the way for new, far more effective therapies to treat one of the most common and debilitating neurological disorders.

Researchers at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine have discovered the key brain chemical that causes Parkinson’s disease – a breakthrough finding that could pave the way for new, far more effective therapies to treat one of the most common and debilitating neurological disorders.

Currently, the main approach for treating Parkinson’s disease, which afflicts more than 1.5 million Americans, is to replace dopamine that’s lost when the cells that produce it die off and cause the disorder. With this new research, however, scientists can better work toward ‘neuroprotective’ therapies – those that actually block dopamine cells from dying off in the first place.

“We believe this work represents a very significant breakthrough in understanding the complicated chemical process that results in Parkinson’s disease,” said William J. Burke, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and the study’s lead author.

“For the first time, we’ve identified the chemical that triggers the events in the brain that cause this disorder,” Burke added. “We believe these findings can be used to develop therapies that can actually stop or slow this process.”

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No One Definitive Cause Of Parkinsons

There are no biomarkers or objective screening tests that indicate one has Parkinsons. That said, medical experts have shown that a constellation of factors are linked to it.

Parkinsons causes are likely a blend of genetics and environmental or other unknown factors. About 10 to 20 percent of Parkinsons disease cases are linked to a genetic cause, says Ted Dawson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins. The types are either autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive .

But that leaves the majority of Parkinsons cases as idiopathic, which means unknown. We think its probably a combination of environmental exposure to toxins or pesticides and your genetic makeup, says Dawson.

Age. The biggest risk factor for developing Parkinsons is advancing age. The average age of onset is 60.

Gender. Men are more likely to develop Parkinsons disease than women.

Genetics. Individuals with a parent or sibling who is affected have approximately two times the chance of developing Parkinsons. Theres been an enormous amount of new information about genetics and new genes identified over the past 10 or 15 years that have opened up a greater understanding of the disease, says Dawson.

Mood And Mental Problems

  • Deal with depression. If you are feeling sad or depressed, ask a friend or family member for help. If these feelings don’t go away, or if they get worse, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to suggest someone for you to talk to. Or your doctor may give you medicine that will help.
  • Deal with dementia. Dementia is common late in Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms may include confusion and memory loss. If you notice that you are confused a lot or have trouble thinking clearly, talk to your doctor. There are medicines that can help dementia in people with Parkinson’s disease.

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The Ghosts Of Pesticides Past

Over the past half century, we have begun to identify the worst risks and address them. The insecticide DDT was once considered a miracle compound. In the 1930s, the Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller was looking for a chemical that could kill insects that were destroying crops and spreading diseasewithout harming the plants. Müller, a nature lover, tested hundreds of chemicals before coating the inside of a glass box with DDT, a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless nerve toxin. He placed houseflies into the container, and they bit the dust. Müller had found his answer.

In the 1940s DDT was considered harmless to humans and regularly sprayed on neighborhoods here children play in the sprays at the beach in New York. Even though DDT was banned half a century ago, it persists in the environmentand in our food supply. It becomes more concentrated as it makes its way up the chain to human consumption. The pesticide is then stored in fatty tissues, including the brain. DDT has been linked to Parkinsons disease. Because of the widespread use of the pesticide, DDT and its breakdown products are detectable in nearly everyone in the United States. It has also been found in the breast milk of women living in Spain, Nicaragua, Taiwan, and the Spanish Canary Islands as recently as 2014.

Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

We eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains every day that have been doused in pesticides. What kind of risk are we all exposed to? We do not know.

Metal Elements And Pesticides As Risk Factors For Parkinson’s Disease

Does Paraquat Exposure Cause Parkinson’s Disease?

Common miRNA association between Parkinson’s Disease and pesticides exist.

Pesticide-deregulated miRNAs affect PD-related molecules, e.g. -synuclein.

There exist an association between essential, non-essential metals and PD.

UPS and mitochondrial impairment, oxidative stress, gene mutation and -Syn aggregation are prime mechanisms involved in essential, non-essential metals neurotoxicity in PD.

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Cellular Pathophysiology Of Pd

Figure 1. Cellular iron metabolism. Ferric iron is transported into cells via binding to transferrin receptor and subsequent endocytosis, while ferrous iron enters cells through divalent metal transporter1 . Within the endosomes, Fe3+ is reduced to Fe2+ through the action of the six-transmembrane epithelial antigen of the prostate and released into the cytosol via DMT1. Ferritin is served as the intracellular reservoir of iron. In DA neurons, neuromelanin works as the iron storage protein instead of ferritin. Fe2+ stored in ferritin/NM is released into the cytosol as the cytosolic labile iron pool via ferritinophagy. Excess in the cytosolic labile iron pool leads to the export of excess iron via ferroportin. In Parkinsons disease patients as well as PD models, cellular iron uptake and release were increased and decreased, respectively, in DA neurons. Also, ferritinophagy is upregulated in the PD model. All of these contribute to the increase of cytoplasmic labile iron pool, which leads to an increase of ferroptosis susceptibility of DA neurons in PD.

Pesticide Residues For The Rest Of Us

As for those of us not handling pesticides on the job or at home, pesticide residues are found on a majority of commercially grown foods. In a review of the research by Cornell Universitys Dr. David Pimentel, 73% to 90% of conventional fruits and vegetables contain pesticide residues, with at least 5% of those pesticide levels above FDA tolerance amounts.

While the cost of organic foods might be a tad higher in the store, the price paid in the long run for pesticides in terms of liver disorders and nervous disorders such as Parkinsons as well as environmental damage to our bees, waterways and soils makes the real price for organic foods much more competitive to conventional, pesticide- and herbicide-laden foods.

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Common Chemical Linked To Parkinson’s

Exposure to a man-made chemical known as trichloroethylene, or 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.

The study also found that exposure to another man-made chemical similar to TCE, known as perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene, or 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.

“The fact that we were able to find a six-to-tenfold increased risk in exposure I think is very meaningful,” says Dr. Samuel M. Goldman, an associate professor of clinical research at The Parkinson’s Institute and the lead author of the study.

Chemicals and solvents like TCE have been anecdotally linked to Parkinson’s disease before but according to Goldman, no epidemiologic study has been done to verify the relationship until now.

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.

“This may make the investigation of pesticides, toxins, and trauma very important to understanding what leads to this disease.”

Paraquat And Parkinsons Disease


The chemicals toxicity isnt disputed, but its link to Parkinsons disease is more controversial. Lawsuits cite studies that have shown paraquats neurotoxic properties.

A few studies have linked paraquat to Parkinsons disease. One study found people who used paraquat and another pesticide called maneb had an increased risk of as much as 600 percent of developing Parkinsons, according to a 2017 letter from Unified Parkinsons Advocacy Council to the EPA.

The Agricultural Health Study, a large study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, found an increased risk of developing Parkinsons in farmers who used paraquat.But not all scientists and regulatory authorities agree on the link.

In a 2019 memorandum, the EPA reviewed studies connecting paraquat to Parkinsons. The agency said the evidence was insufficient.

After comprehensive review of the relevant studies, the Agency concluded that the weight of evidence was insufficient to link paraquat exposure from pesticidal use of US registered products to PD in humans, the agency said.

The paraquat litigation is in the early stages and there have been no settlements or jury verdicts yet. In the meantime, lawyers continue to investigate and file lawsuits on behalf of farmers and other agricultural workers across the country.

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Rotenone Linked To Parkinsons

A study from Koreas Yonsei University studied the broad spectrum pesticide Rotenone and how it damages nerve cells and pathways.

The researchers found that Rotenone induces cell death in a process called with G2/M cell cycle arrest. G2/M cell cycle arrest blocks the process of mitosis that enables cells and their DNA to replicate and more importantly among nerve cells repair any DNA damage.

Thus the insecticide basically blocks the ability of the nerve cell to repair itself lending to the cells eventually dying off or mutating.

Age And Genetic Factors Are Not Everything

The rate of Parkinsons disease globally has exceeded far faster than the population has aged according to the American Parkinson Disease Association.

Cases of the disease are up by several multiples over the past decades. From 1990 to 2015, the cases of the disease globally more than doubled, suggesting that there is far more at work. From 2015 to 2040, cases are expected to double once again. This is far higher than the rate of aging in the population.

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Reasons Why Parkinsons Disease Occurs

The scientific reason given for Parkinsons disease is that the patient has lost nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra. A very important chemical called dopamine is produced by the substantia nigra. The loss of the ability to produce dopamine contributes to the early stages of Parkinsons disease.

The Link Between Parkinsons Disease And Toxic Chemicals

Cannabis and Parkinson’s Disease

A new book calls the increasing prominence of Parkinsons a man-made pandemic.

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Michael Richard Clifford, a 66-year-old retired astronaut living in Cary, N.C., learned before his third spaceflight that he had Parkinsons disease. He was only 44 and in excellent health at the time, and had no family history of this disabling neurological disorder.

What he did have was years of exposure to numerous toxic chemicals, several of which have since been shown in animal studies to cause the kind of brain damage and symptoms that afflict people with Parkinsons.

As a youngster, Mr. Clifford said, he worked in a gas station using degreasers to clean car engines. He also worked on a farm where he used pesticides and in fields where DDT was sprayed. Then, as an aviator, he cleaned engines readying them for test flights. But at none of these jobs was he protected from exposure to hazardous chemicals that are readily inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Now Mr. Clifford, a lifelong nonsmoker, believes that his close contact with these various substances explains why he developed Parkinsons disease at such a young age. Several of the chemicals have strong links to Parkinsons, and a growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to them may very well account for the dramatic rise in the diagnosis of Parkinsons in recent decades.

Sometimes, though, the links are so strong and the evidence so compelling that there can be little doubt that one causes the other.

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How Does Environment Come Into It

Your environment is a hard one to pin down. Partly, that’s because it covers a lot of ground. It’s everything that’s not your genes, which could mean where you live, what you eat, chemicals you’ve come into contact with, and more.

Not only that, but it could take years for the effects from something in your environment to show up. So far, doctors have a lot of clues but no smoking gun. So you could have people who live or work in an area around chemicals tied to Parkinson’s, but many of them don’t get it.

Some research shows links between Parkinson’s and:

  • Agent Orange, a chemical used to destroy trees and crops in the Vietnam War.
  • Certain chemicals used in farming, such as insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
  • Some metals and chemicals used in factories, such as manganese, lead, and trichlorethylene .

These can come into play based on where you live, what you do for work, or if you served in the military. Sometimes, these chemicals seep into well water, so that’s one more way they can affect you.


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