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What Pesticides Cause Parkinson’s

Rates Of Parkinsons Disease Are Exploding A Common Chemical May Be To Blame

Herbicides and Insecticides Increase Risk to Parkinsons ...

Adrienne Matei

Researchers believe a factor is a chemical used in drycleaning and household products such as shoe polishes and carpet cleaners in the US

Asked about the future of Parkinson’s disease in the US, Dr Ray Dorsey says, “We’re on the tip of a very, very large iceberg.”

Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of Ending Parkinson’s 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% the last 10 years, says Dorsey, and “We think over the next 25 years it will double again.”

Most cases of Parkinson’s disease are considered idiopathic – they lack a clear cause. Yet researchers increasingly believe that one factor is environmental exposure to trichloroethylene , a chemical compound used in industrial degreasing, dry-cleaning and household products such as some shoe polishes and carpet cleaners.

To date, the clearest evidence around the risk of TCE to human health is derived from workers who are exposed to the chemical in the work-place. A 2008 peer-reviewed in the Annals of Neurology, for example, found that TCE is “a risk factor for parkinsonism.” And a 2011 study echoed those results, finding “a six-fold increase in the risk of developing Parkinson’s in individuals exposed in the workplace to trichloroethylene .”

  • Adrienne Matei is a freelance journalist

A Discussion Of How Environmental Factors Such As Pesticides May Affect Your Risk Of Parkinsons Disease

During my recent interview on Wisconsin Public Radio, many of the callers asked questions related to environmental risks of Parkinson’s disease , specifically, exposures related to farming. Those calls prompted me to delve further into this complicated and murky topic.

Before we start discussing specific factors in the environment that may increase risk of PD, let’s understand some basic ground rules that will help put this topic in perspective

With that background, let us begin.

Do Chemicals Cause Parkinsons Disease

Short answer:  The best available scientific evidence suggests that a few chemicals, including some pesticides, increase risk of Parkinson’s disease, but only a small fraction of cases are believed to be caused by any sort of environmental exposure.

Longer answer:  The first chemical demonstrated to cause Parkinson’s disease is MPTP, as discussed  and in the fascinating book, .  MPTP, or more precisely its metabolite MPP+, is an exceptionally potent toxin that selectively kills dopaminergic neurons by poisoning their mitochondria.  This is not a case of slightly increased risk; it quickly and irreversibly causes symptoms essentially indistinguishable from idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.



It is highly unlikely that you will come in contact with these molecules at the present time.  Rather alarmingly, however, in the 1970s, MPP+ was apparently developed, and field tested, as a herbicide under the name Cyperquat, by Gulf Oil Chemicals Company .

Of much greater concern are widely used pesticides, which have been demonstrated to increase risk of Parkinson’s disease with varying strengths of evidence.  Some of the strongest evidence is for , thousands of tons of which have been used to kill unwanted fish and various agricultural pests; it has even been used to kill head lice on humans.


Another pesticide worth highlighting is paraquat, due to its chemical similarity to MPP+.  


Environmental Factors And Parkinsons

Researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can cause Parkinson’s. Chemicals, viruses, bacteria and heavy metals have all been linked to the condition – this could be because they may cause neurons that produce dopamine to die. Scientists have also suggested a connection between herbicides and pesticides, and Parkinson’s.

To find out more about the causes of Parkinson’s, please visit the EPDA website.

Read more:

Glyphosate Boosts Parkinsons Risk

Why pesticides may cause Parkinson

In a 2018 study, researchers from Brazil’s University of Campinas tested 10 commercial brands of infant formulas. They found glyphosate residues at levels ranging from .02 to .17 milligrams per kg. in the formulas. The researchers linked the glyphosate and its metabolite, aminomethylphosphonic acid to Parkinson’s:

“Recently, glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid  have been identified as possible contributors to the emergence of various diseases such as autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, as well as cancer.”

Glyphosate has been linked to Parkinson’s in other studies. A 2013 study found that because glyphosate inhibits the P450 enzymes, and it builds up in tissues, it damages cells and produces brain toxicity.

A 2006 study followed 55,931 people who worked in agriculture. They found those who handled pesticides and herbicides the most had about double the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinsons Disease In Society

Men, in general, are more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It is also more common in people 60 years of age and older. The disease is less common among cigarette smokers. Some early associations, such as with caffeine, have not been validated in robust clinical trials. It has been proposed that both environmental and genetic factors may lead to Parkinson’s disease.

There is no scientific consensus on a preventive course to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, efforts by advocacy groups focus on medical advances to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and seek a cure.

What Should I Know If Im Considering A Paraquat Lawsuit

If you’re thinking of joining a paraquat lawsuit, here’s what you need to know:

  • You may be able to seek compensation for all of your damages, including medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and declines in your quality of life.

  • There are deadlines to file toxic exposure lawsuits and in-depth investigations that must be performed, so the sooner you get started, the better.

  • You will need the help of an experienced paraquat lawsuit lawyer to prove that exposure to the herbicide is what caused you to develop Parkinson’s disease.

  • It costs you nothing out of pocket to get started with a claim. The consultation is free, and legal representation is offered on a no-win, no-fee basis.


For licensed applicators and other agricultural workers who developed Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to paraquat, getting financial compensation will help you afford the best care. That, in turn, will help you have the best quality of life.

Richard P. Console, Jr.

Early Life Exposures To Pesticides

Animal studies have found evidence that male mice exposed to maneb in utero are at increased risk of developing neurodegeneration if subsequently exposed, as adults, to paraquat. These laboratory findings have led to the speculation that pesticide-exposed children may be at increased risk of PD in later life, although evidence for this association is lacking. Equally, it can be hypothesized that in old age, a pesticide exposure might ‘tip the balance’ in an individual with pre-existing dopaminergic cell depletion, thus leading to PD. At present, too little is known about the timing of pesticide exposures and the role this may play in the development of PD. A large prospective cohort study of children and their exposure to environmental pesticides is required to study the role of early life pesticide exposures.

Benomyl Blocks Brain Cell Processes

Meanwhile, researchers from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine found that the fungicide Benomyl will block multiple cell processes. One of these blocks the production of aldehyde dehydrogenase .

Read more: Native American Herbs May Slow Parkinson’s Disease

ALDH increases the dopamine metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde, which produces degeneration among neurons associated with the production of dopamine. One of the central dopamine-producing centers exists in the brain – the substantia nigra located within the midbrain.

When the nerve cells located in this region die off or become otherwise deranged, they stop producing dopamine and other neurotransmitters that help control coordination and movement throughout the body. A lack of these neurotransmitters will produce the shakiness and eventual loss of coordination characteristic amongst progressed Parkinson’s patients.

Environmental Toxins And Parkinsons Disease

Parkinson’s disease is said to be because of the loss of dopamine-releasing nerve cells in a small, central part of the brain called the substantia nigra. The substantia nigra produces dopamine, which helps coordinate movement in our body.

But when nigral nerve cells are impaired, less dopamine is released and motor function is affected. And that’s when hallmark Parkinson’s symptoms including tremors, difficulty balancing, and slowed movement start to set in.

Several studies have suggested that environmental toxicants including pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants are linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Here’s how these chemicals are said to play a role in the development of the neurological disorder:

Chemical That Triggers Parkinson’s Disease Discovered

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.”

Story Source:

Rotenone Linked To Parkinsons

A study from Korea’s 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.

The Rise Of Parkinson’s Disease

Our Parkinson

Neurological disorders are the world’s leading cause of disability. And the fastest growing of these conditions is not Alzheimer’s but Parkinson’s disease.

  • The number of people with Parkinson’s disease more than doubled from 1990 to 2015 and could double again by 2040. An aging population alone does not account for this rise.
  • Air pollution, metal production, certain industrial chemicals, and some synthetic pesticides are linked to Parkinson’s. Yet we are doing little to manage known risk factors.
  • The authors contend that the United States should ban trichloroethylene, paraquat, and other chemicals linked to Parkinson’s, which many other countries have already done.

From 1990 to 2015, the number of people living with Parkinson’s more than doubled from 2.6 million to 6.3 million, according to a 2015 study in Lancet Neurology. By 2040, the number is projected to double again to at least 12.9 million, a stunning rise .

The number of people with Parkinson’s disease more than doubled between 1990 and 2015 and is projected to double again by 2040.

Figure adapted from E. R. Dorsey and B. R. Bloem, 2018.

Figure adapted from R. Dorsey et al., 2020.

The number of people who succumb to Parkinson’s each year has been increasing steadily.

Data from: U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data.

Christophe Vander Eecken / Reporters / Science Source

Can Parkinsons Disease Be Prevented

Sadly, no.

It is not possible to prevent Parkinson’s disease, but some believe that lifelong healthy habits may reduce one’s risk of developing the condition. Some medications may also relieve some of its symptoms.

In some PD patients, particularly those who are at the late stage of the disease, surgery may be an option to help improve symptoms.

Some experts also advise doing rpeventive measures such as wearing gloves and other protectvie equipment when applying pesticides as it may help protect you against the disease.

Are People That Use Pesticides More Likely To Get Parkinsons

In occupational terms, there is more limited research. The most relevant evidence comes in the form of a recent systematic review and meta-analysis, which has identified at least a 50% increase in risk with occupational exposure to pesticides.

We know that Parkinson’s affects more men than women, and occupational exposures to pesticides and chemicals is often listed as just one of the reasons for this imbalance. However, not everyone who is exposed to risk factors for Parkinson’s go on to develop the condition.

But research in the news may help to explain why.

This study used stem cells, some of which carried a mutation in the alpha-synuclein gene, and used them to make dopamine producing brain cells in the lab. They then exposed these new brain cells to paraquat and maneb, or rotenone to assess what effect these chemicals had.

The team, led by Professor Ryan, discovered that the pesticides altered the way mitochondria move around, and believe this could affect the energy levels of the cell. And we already know that the dopamine producing brain cells that are lost in Parkinson’s are particularly sensitive to problems with mitochondria.

But more importantly, the cells that contained genetic changes were more affected by the pesticides. This highlights that our genetic makeup likely plays a huge role in how susceptible we are to toxin exposure in our environment, and may help to explain why most people exposed to these chemicals do not go on to develop Parkinson’s.

Evidence In Human Studies

The epidemiological evidence of Parkinson’s disease and pesticides is suggestive but conflicting. Some studies have indicated that individuals with Parkinson’s disease were more likely to live in rural areas and/or drink well water. There have also been cases of parkinsonism in agricultural workers. The results vary for studies of pesticides per se and Parkinson’s disease.,, The association of pesticides, in general, is most consistently observed in job-based settings., However, another investigator recommended that agricultural exposures other than pesticides, such as drinking well water, should be more carefully assessed.

The more scientists learn about the progression of the disease, the more they can learn how to prevent it. The role of environmental exposures, including pesticides, and the onset of Parkinson’s disease remains inconclusive.

A European Food Safety Authority review reported that the interpretation of studies of Parkinson’s disease and pesticides was limited because the studies varied in design and quality. The EFSA report also observed that the results are “suggestive only” and that further studies need to be conducted to “disentangle the effect of specific pesticide classes or even individual pesticides.” Large ongoing studies of U.S. farmers and French agricultural workers,  are examples of efforts to address these questions.

J Occup Environ Med NeurotoxicologyEnviron ResPLoS One Environ Health Perspect Environ IntScand J Work Environ Health

The Danger Of Paraquat Today

The United States banned DDT, Agent Orange, and heptachlor in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the United States has not banned all pesticides linked to Parkinson’s. The one with perhaps the strongest link to the disease is still in widespread use: paraquat.

The United States has not banned all pesticides linked to Parkinson’s. The one with perhaps the strongest link to the disease is still in widespread use: paraquat.

Paraquat has been used as a pesticide since the 1950s and is marketed as an alternative to the world’s most popular weed killer, glyphosate, more commonly known as Roundup. Paraquat takes care of weeds that not even Roundup can kill. Today, it is used on farm fields across the United States, and its use continues to increase. The pesticide’s primary uses are for corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and grapes.

Portraits of several Parkinson’s patients show the many faces of people with the diagnosis. It affects people from all walks of life.

Robert Dein

In the laboratory, paraquat reproduces the features of Parkinson’s disease. In a 1999 study in Brain Research, A. I. Brooks of the University of Rochester and colleagues gave paraquat to mice, and their activity decreased. Paraquat also killed dopamine-producing nerve cells in the rodents’ substantia nigras. The greater the amount of paraquat administered, the greater the number of nerve cells lost.

Table adapted from: .

Figure adapted from R. Dorsey et al., 2020.

Exposure To Pesticides And Solvents Increases Parkinsons Disease Risk

The downside to bug-free fruit may be an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Weeds and insects aren’t necessarily desirable when it comes to our produce and gardens—have you ever chomped down on an apple only to find a worm? But the chemicals used to kill pests in fields and planters may be harming your health as well. After analyzing 104 studies, researchers from the University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy, found that exposure to pesticides targeting weeds and insects in farming was associated with a 33 to 80 percent increase in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers decided to take a closer look at the impact of pesticides, which are designed to kill things like insects and weeds but not to endanger human consumers or workers, when they noticed more and more patients reporting pesticide exposure. “In every day clinical practice we frequently see patients reporting such exposure. Accordingly, it appears quite obvious to look at these exposures as risk factors,” said study author Emanuele Cereda, MD, Ph.D., in an interview with Healthline.

Specific Pesticides And Their Link To Pd

The evidence that pesticide use is associated with an increased risk in PD, begs the question – are there specific pesticides that are most concerning? When data is collected on this topic in large populations, often the participants in the study are unaware of which specific pesticide exposures they have had.  This makes it difficult to determine which pesticides to avoid.

Some studies however were able to investigate the risks of specific chemicals. A recent summarized the current state of knowledge on this topic. The chemical with the most data linking it to an increased PD risk is paraquat, with exposure associated with a 2-3 fold increased PD risk over the general population.

One particularly comprehensive study investigated exposure to 31 pesticides and their association with PD risk. From that data emerged paraquat and rotenone as the two most concerning pesticides.

  • Paraquat’s mechanism of action is the production of reactive oxygen species, intracellular molecules that cause oxidative stress and damage cells.
  • Rotenone’s mechanism of action is disruption of the mitochondria, the component of the cell that creates energy for cell survival.

Interestingly, both mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress are common themes in our general understanding of what causes death of nerve cells in PD.

Paraquat Linked To Parkinsons

A 2013 study from UCLA confirmed that exposure to the herbicide Paraquat is linked with a heightened risk of Parkinson’s disease. This combines with other research finding that herbicides and pesticides increase the risk of Parkinson’s.

The researchers, from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, studied 357 Parkinson’s disease cases along with 754 control subjects – adults from Central California. The researchers determined increased exposure to the herbicide Paraquat through geographic mapping of their home addresses, together with agricultural use of the chemical on nearby farms. The research found that those living closer to farms that sprayed the herbicide were found to have a 36% increased risk of Parkinson’s.

However, those who experienced a head injury combined with increased Paraquat exposure tripled their chances of having Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers from Mexico’s Unidad de Medicina Familiar also studied cases of Parkinson’s together with exposure to the herbicide Paraquat among Mexican workers. They also found a positive association between exposure to this chemical and Parkinson’s disease.

Paraquat is N,N?-dimethyl-4,4?-bipyridinium dichloride.

Learn about safe and gentle life-long cleansing and support this ad-free website.

Need To Know: Dr Ray Dorsey


Dr Ray Dorsey is David M Levy Professor of Neurology and Director at the Center for Health + Technology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, US, which has conducted more than 100 clinical trials – including trials that led to the approval of four Parkinson’s medications. He recently co-wrote the book,‘Ending Parkinson’s Disease: A Prescription for Action’.

Glyphosate In Roundup Linked To Parkinsons Disease

 New research out of Japan’s Chiba University suggests that exposure to , the active ingredient in the most commonly used pesticide worldwide , may be a risk factor in the development of Parkinson’s Disease. The ubiquity of glyphosate use in agriculture — which leaves residues of the toxic chemical in food — may mean that exposures to it represent a significant risk factor for the disease. Glyphosate is already implicated or proved in the development of numerous health anomalies, including . Beyond Pesticides recognizes that pesticides play a variety of roles in causing or exacerbating negative health outcomes, including Parkinson’s Disease . Transitioning pest management — in agriculture, land management, and household and personal care contexts — to nontoxic and organic approaches is the critical step away from bathing humans and the Earth in harmful chemicals.

The researchers in this subject study, out of the Chiba University Center for Forensic Mental Health’s Division of Clinical Neuroscience, sought to investigate whether exposures to glyphosate could impact dopaminergic neurotoxicity in the brains of mice. They found that exposures to glyphosate in adult mice intensified a type of neurotoxicity associated with PD.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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 disease—without 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 environment—and 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 Parkinson’s 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.

Paraquat Exposure Alert: Paraquat Linked To Parkinsons Diseaseagricultural Workers Could Be Entitled To Compensation

Agricultural workers who were exposed to the herbicide paraquat and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may have a claim for financial compensation.

With lawsuits against paraquat manufacturers already filed in multiple states, attorneys are now investigating paraquat lawsuit cases at no charge.

A paraquat toxic exposure lawsuit may be your only chance to receive the compensation you need to cover the costs of treating Parkinson’s disease.

What You Need To Know About Paraquat And Parkinsons Disease

Dozens of countries around the world have banned the use of paraquat, a weed killer so toxic that ingesting a single sip can be deadly, according to The New York Times.

In the United States, paraquat use isn’t just legal—it’s on the rise. The total amount of paraquat usage in the U.S. doubled between 2006 and 2016, the National Water-Quality Assessment Project reported.

That increase in usage translates to an increase in exposure to paraquat and to the harms linked to the toxic chemical. Numerous research studies have shown that, besides posing a risk of potentially deadly paraquat poisoning, the herbicide can increase your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

The paraquat manufacturers named in lawsuits so far include Syngenta, Growmark, and Chevron U.S.A, Inc.

Is Paraquat in Roundup?

No, paraquat is not the active ingredient found in Roundup. While the herbicide Roundup has also been the subject of lawsuits—more than 125,000 of them—in recent years, the active ingredients and the specific health risks associated with these chemicals are different.

The makers of herbicides containing paraquat are facing lawsuits over the link between the toxic chemical and Parkinson’s Disease. Monsanto, the company that first made Roundup, and Bayer, the parent company that now owns Monsanto, are facing lawsuits over evidence of a link between cancer and the active ingredient in Roundup.


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