Researchers are eager to identify causes of Parkinson's disease, a debilitating neurological disorder which affects as many as 500,000 Americans, with 50,000 diagnosed each year. A new study, published in the journal Annals of Neurology finds that exposure to a widely used industrial chemical—trichloroethylene, or TCE—is likely one cause.
The study looked at 99 pairs of identical twins, with an average age of 65, in which one twin had Parkinson's and the other did not. They found that the twins with Parkinson's were more than six times as likely to have worked with TCE. Exposure to two other chemicals, percholorethylene (PERC) and carbon tetrachloride (CCI4), was also tied to an increased risk. TCE is used as a metal degreaser, and all three chemicals are widely used in dry cleaning solutions, adhesives, paints and carpet cleaners.
Even those of us who don't work directly with these chemicals are exposed to them. TCE is the most common organic contaminant found in ground water, and has been detected in up to 30 percent of American drinking water supplies. (Read more what's being done, and not done, to get TCE out of our water in this recent New York Times Green blog post.)
More about common chemicals linked to deadly diseases: