As a parent, you do everything you can to keep your family safe and healthy. But what if there's a hidden danger lurking in your home or workplace?
Recent research suggests that a widely used chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE) may be linked to Parkinson's disease, the world's fastest-growing brain condition.
TCE has been used for over 100 years in a variety of products, including decaffeinated coffee, metal degreasers, and dry-cleaning fluids. It's also a common environmental contaminant in places like the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune and 15 toxic Superfund sites in Silicon Valley. In fact, up to one-third of the groundwater in the United States is contaminated with TCE.
But TCE isn't just a harmless chemical. It's been linked to cancer, miscarriages, and congenital heart disease. And now, research shows that exposure to TCE is associated with a 500% increased risk of Parkinson's disease.
Recent research linking trichloroethylene (TCE) to Parkinson's disease is concerning. In a hypothesis paper published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, a team of international researchers, including neurologists from the University of Rochester Medical Center, suggest that TCE may be an invisible cause of the disease.
The paper details the widespread use of TCE in products like decaffeinated coffee, metal degreasers, and dry-cleaning fluids, as well as its presence in contaminated groundwater and environmental sites. The evidence linking TCE to Parkinson's is concerning, and the paper profiles several individuals, including a former NBA basketball player, a Navy captain, and a late U.S. Senator, who developed Parkinson's disease after being exposed to the chemical.
TCE, a versatile solvent that was widely used in the past, has been employed in numerous applications, including removing paint, correcting typewriting mistakes, cleaning engines, and even as an anesthetic for patients. Its use in the United States reached its peak in the 1970s when more than 600 million pounds of the chemical - equivalent to two pounds per American - were manufactured annually. It's estimated that around 10 million Americans worked with TCE or similar industrial solvents during this time.
Although the use of TCE has decreased domestically since its peak in the 1970s, it is still used today for degreasing metal and spot dry cleaning in the United States. While TCE has shown to be effective for industrial purposes, its potential health risks, such as its link to Parkinson's disease and other medical conditions, are concerning.
Studies conducted over 50 years ago first hinted at a potential connection between TCE and Parkinson's disease. Since then, research conducted in rodents has shown that TCE can easily enter brain and body tissue and cause damage to the mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in cells. In animal studies, TCE has been found to cause the selective loss of nerve cells that produce dopamine, a key characteristic of Parkinson's disease in humans.
These findings are concerning and suggest that TCE may play a role in the development of Parkinson's disease. While more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between TCE exposure and Parkinson's disease, these studies highlight the need for caution when using or being exposed to TCE and other industrial solvents.
The impact of TCE on human health is highlighted by the experiences of individuals such as Brian Grant, a former professional basketball player who played in the NBA for 12 years and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at the young age of 36. Grant's exposure to TCE likely occurred when he was only three years old and his father, a Marine, was stationed at Camp Lejeune.
Despite his diagnosis, Grant has remained resilient and dedicated to raising awareness and supporting those affected by Parkinson's disease. He has founded a foundation that aims to inspire and empower people with the disease, demonstrating the resilience and strength of those affected by this condition.
Grant's story is just one example of the devastating impact that TCE exposure can have on individuals and their families. By highlighting these stories, we can increase awareness of the risks associated with TCE exposure and work towards preventing further harm.
Two states, Minnesota and New York, have banned TCE, but the federal government has not, despite findings by the EPA as recently at 2022 that the chemicals pose “an unreasonable risk to human health.”