Parkinson’s Disease Risk Increased by TCE Industrial Cleaner: Study

A new study by U.S. researchers has linked the industrial cleaner trichlorethylene (TCE) to an increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease.

The study, which will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology‘s (AAN) 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto in April, found that workers who were exposed to TCE were five times more likely to have Parkinson’s Disease. Researchers with the Parkinson’s Institute of Sunnyvale, California, say that the industrial cleaner and solvent destroys the ability of certain parts of the brain to create dopamine; a neural transmitter that relays crucial chemical information throughout the brain.

Researchers looked at 99 sets of twins from a list of World War II veterans and looked for cases where one twin had Parkinson’s Disease and the other did not. Upon researching the job histories of those twins, the histories were looked at in a blind analysis by industrial hygienists and preventative medicine specialists. The researchers determined that workers who were most likely exposed to TCE were 5.5 times more likely to have Parkinson’s Disease than those who were not exposed.

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TCE was once used as a metal cleaner, dry cleaning solvent, and even as an anesthetic, but is no longer widely used in any area but metal cleaning due to other toxicity issues. Animal testing revealed that it specifically killed dopamine-creating cells in the substantia nigra, which is the same part of the brain that affect’s Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s Disease is caused by the death of dopamine-producing cells and causes severe tremors, limb rigidity and other symptoms. It is eventually fatal and about 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition each year.

“This is the first time a population-bsed study has confirmed case reports that exposure to TCE may increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease,” said Dr. Samuel Goldman, the study’s author, in an AAN press release. “TCE is a popular industrial solvent that is still widely used to clean grease off metal parts.”

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