A new study published in the Annals of Neurology has drawn a link between workers exposed to trichloroethylene, or TCE, and Parkinson's Disease.
The small study does not provide conclusive proof that exposure to the chemical can cause symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease, but it draws a link based on studies of workers who were exposed to TCE in the air for 25-plus years, and who also dipped their arms into vats of TCE.
TCE, a common solvent, is used to remove grease from equipment, including computer equipment, during manufacturing. It is also used to manufacture refrigerants. It is among the most common pollutants found at Superfund sites around the country, and it has been found at low levels in urban air and in many drinking water supplies.
The study linked exposure to parkinsonism, a group of disorders with similar symptoms to Parkinson's, such as slowness of voluntary movement, stooped posture and trouble with balance. Of 134 workers surveyed, 14 showed three or more symptoms. Laboratory studies of rats have shown that TCE can damage mitochondria, which has been identified as a precursor to degenerative diseases. Other studies have drawn similar links with pesticide exposures.
The authors called the study evidence of a "strong potential link" between exposure and disease.
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