Workers exposed to tricholorethylene (TCE), a chemical widely used to clean metal such as auto parts, may be at a significantly higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a study released February 7 that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd annual meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010.
“This is the first time a population-based study has confirmed case reports that exposure to TCE may increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease,” said study author Samuel Goldman, MD, with the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, Calif., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “TCE is a popular industrial solvent that is still widely used to clean grease off metal parts.”
For the study, researchers obtained job histories from 99 pairs of twins in which only one of the twins had Parkinson’s disease. All of the twins were men and identified from the World War II-Veterans Twins Cohort study. Scientists used twins in the study because they are genetically identical or very similar and provide an ideal population for evaluating environmental risk factors.
The study found workers who were exposed to TCE were five and a half times more likely to have Parkinson’s disease than people not exposed to the chemical. Those who were exposed to TCE had job histories including work as dry cleaners, machinists, mechanics or electricians.
The study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, The Valley Foundation and the James and Sharron Clark Family Fund.