New evidence suggests job chemical exposure linked to Parkinson's

In a recent study conducted at the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, California, researchers found that workers exposed to chemicals in electrical work, industrial machinery repair, and dry cleaning showed a significantly higher risk of developing Parkinson's Disease.

The team of scientists analyzed twins in which one had developed the disease, isolating the exposure to six chemicals found in such workplaces that have been linked to Parkinson's. Researchers found that two of these chemicals, trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PERC), are especially hazardous. 

"The potential importance is great, since both solvents persist in the environment and are commonly used," said Dr. Samuel Goldman, at the Parkinson's Institute. "Parkinson's was sixfold more common in twins exposed to TCE, and ninefold more common in twins exposed to TCE or PERC."

The research also took into account workplace head injuries, which are suspected to increase the risk of the disease.

The study concluded that the highest exposure was found in the industrial machinery repair and industrial worker categories.

In response to industrial chemical exposure, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets enforceable permissible exposure limits (PELs) to keep workers safe from over-exposure to hazardous chemicals. The standards include proper ventilation and the use of personal protection equipment, including respiratory protection, protective clothing, gloves, eye and face protection, and other safety products

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