Study: TCE Exposure Linked to Parkinsonism Risk

Researchers at the University of Kentucky say that industrial workers exposed to trichloroethylene (TCE), a degreasing agent widely used in industry, may face a greater risk for parkinsonism. In their study, reported in the online version of Annals of Neurology, the research team identified a number of industrial workers who exhibited symptoms of parkinsonism, a group of nervous disorders with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. The workers had experienced long-term exposure to TCE, which in addition to its industrial use also has been found in drinking water, surface water, and soil due to runoff from manufacturing sites where it has been used.

The workers were identified during a clinical trial of 10 Parkinson's disease patients when one patient expressed concern that his long-term job-site exposure to TCE may have contributed to the disease. The patient noted some of his co-workers also had developed Parkinson's. The other two individuals with Parkinson's had at least 25 years of occupational exposure to TCE, including both inhalation and physical contact by submerging unprotected arms and forearms in a TCE vat or touching machine parts that had been cleaned in the chemical.

Further examination of other co-workers who with long term exposure to TCE identified 14 individuals with marked parkinsonism symptoms, including significant reductions in fine motor hand movements than age-matched controls. Other individuals showed milder features of the condition when compared to the controls. The researchers also used an animal model that showed reductions in an enzyme important to energy production and degenerative changes in certain dopamine neurons following exposure to TCE. The team acknowledges that the study is not a large-scale epidemiological investigation but assert that the results demonstrate a strong potential link between chronic TCE exposure and parkinsonism. For more information, visit http://news.uky.edu/news/display_article.php?artid=3029.

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