Chemicals Used In The Textile Industry Seen As A Possible Cause Parkinson’s Disease
A chemical previously used in dry cleaning could cause Parkinson’s disease, according to new research.
Seven high-profile individuals – including a former basketball star, a Navy captain and a late U.S. Senator – developed the disease after exposure, scientists said.
The industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) was once used to decaffeinate coffee. It has been banned by the food and pharmaceutical industries since the 1970s.
But it is also used in some household products, such as cleaning wipes, aerosol cleaning products, tool cleaners, paint removers, spray adhesives, and carpet cleaners and spot removers.
It was removed from dry cleaning in the UK in the mid 1950s but according to Public Health England is still used in metal cleaning and degreasing and as an extraction solvent in the textile manufacturing industry.
Lead author Dr. Ray Dorsey, of the University of Rochester in New York, said: “For more than a century TCE has threatened workers, polluted the air we breathe – outside and inside – and contaminated the water we drink. Global use is waxing, not waning.”
A global study in 2013 found it increased the risk of the neurological condition sixfold. TCE is still used as a degreasing agent.
Dr. Dorsey and colleagues say the toxic chemical may be fuelling rising numbers of cases of Parkinson’s disease cases across the world.
About one million people in the U.S. currently suffer from the condition. Doctors diagnose 60,000 Americans each year.
Brian Grant, who played for 12 years in the NBA, was struck down at the age of 36.
He was likely exposed to TCE when he was three years old. His father, then a Marine, was stationed at Camp Lejeune where it contaminates the US military base.
Amy Lindberg was similarly exposed there while serving as a young Navy captain. She went on to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 30 years later.
The study details others whose exposure was the result of living close to a contaminated site or working with the chemical.
They include the late US Senator Johnny Isakson, who stepped down from office after his diagnosis in 2015.
Fifty years earlier, he served in the Georgia Air National Guard, which used TCE to degrease airplanes.
The U.S. alone is home to thousands of contaminated sites. Cleaning and containment must be accelerated, say the researchers.
They argue for more research to better understand how TCE contributes to Parkinson’s and other diseases.
TCE levels in groundwater, drinking water, soil, and outdoor and indoor air require closer monitoring and this information needs to be shared with those who live and work near polluted sites.
In addition, they call for finally ending the use of these chemicals.
Two states, Minnesota and New York, have banned TCE, but the federal government has not, despite findings by the Environment Protection Agency last year that they pose “an unreasonable risk to human health.”
Previous research suggests a lag time of up to 40 years between TCE exposure and onset of Parkinson’s – providing a critical window of opportunity.
Worldwide there are six million people with the disease, including 145,000 in the UK.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker