Parkinson's: the 'World's Fastest-Growing' Brain Disease'
A common chemical that is used in correction fluid, paint removers, gun cleaners, aerosol cleaning products, and dry cleaning may be the key culprit behind the dramatic increase in Parkinson's disease (PD), researchers say.
An international team of researchers reviewed previous research and cited data that suggest the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) is associated with as much as a 500% increased risk for Parkinson's disease (PD).
The paper was published online March 14 in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.
TCE was first synthesized in a lab in 1864, with commercial production beginning in 1920, the researchers note.
Because of its unique properties, TCE has had countless industrial, commercial, military, and medical applications.
Consumer products in which TCE is found include typewriter correction fluid, paint removers, gun cleaners, and aerosol cleaning products. Up until the 1970s, it was used to decaffeinate coffee.
TCE exposure isn't confined to those who work with it. It also pollutes outdoor air, taints groundwater, and contaminates indoor air. It's present in a substantial amount of groundwater in the US and it evaporates from underlying soil and groundwater and enters homes, workplaces, or schools, often undetected.
The investigators noted that the rapid increase in PD incidence cannot be explained by genetic factors alone, which affect only about 15% of patients with PD, nor can it be explained by aging alone.
The authors acknowledge that the role of TCE in PD, as illustrated by the cases, is far from definitive. For example, exposure to TCE is often combined with exposure to other toxins, or with unmeasured genetic risk factors.
They highlight the need for more research and call for cleaning and containing contaminated sites, monitoring TCE levels and publicly communicating risk and a ban on TCE.