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Daily News Archive
From April 2, 2001

Scientists Find Strong Evidence that Pesticides Play a Role in Parkinson's

Environmental factors including pesticides, herbicides and fungicides may play a key role in the
development of Parkinson's disease, researchers suggested Thursday at the annual meeting of the Society of Toxicology according Reuter's Health (click here to read the article). Scientists have debated for decades whether Parkinson's, a neuro-degenerative disease affecting 1 million Americans, is caused mainly by genetic or by environmental factors, said Dr. Bill Langston, president of the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, California. Recent research has shown that while genetics may play a strong role for those who develop the disease early in life, environmental factors probably trigger the vast majority of cases in people who develop the disease later. "The evidence is powerful (indicating that) this is a disease due to something in the environment," Langston said.

A list of some of the research that links onset of Parkinson's disease to exposure to pesticides include:
· A study by Kaiser Permanente in California that found using pesticides in the home increased a person's risk of developing the disease by 70%.
· Work by J. Timothy Greenamyre, a professor of neurology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia on the effect of the common garden pesticide rotenone on rat brains shows that rotenone appears to cause cell damage and even neuron death in the rats.
· Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechta, head of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester, gave mice a common herbicide called paraquat, a fungicide called maneb, or a combination of the two. The mice who received the two chemicals lost around 40% of their motor ability.