pesticide sprayer

The concerns over our dependence on pesticides are nothing new. Unease over pesticides and herbicides range from a number of environmental issues, including resistant bugs and weeds, and the connection to the massive bee die-offs (known as Colony Collapse Disorder) to serious human health concerns, the latest of which shows a strong correlation with the development of Parkinson’s disease.

In a recent study published in the journal Neurology, researchers looked at more than 100 studies in which pesticide and herbicide exposure was measured along with cases of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the nervous system. Where there was significant exposure to pesticides—such as living near a farm or nearby other rural agricultural property—the researchers notes a rise in the risk of developing Parkinson’s by as much as 33 to 80 percent. According to TIME magazine, “In some studies, individuals who came in contact with the weed killer paraquat or the fungicides maneb and mancozeb were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s.”

Whether exposure came from inhalation, contaminated drinking water or contact with the skin could not be determined in the studies, but the researchers did note that individuals who experienced prolonged or repeated exposure had increased their risks.

According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, between 50,000 and 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed each year. It’s considered the 14th leading cause of death in the U.S. and around the world between four and six million people suffer from the debilitating disease that currently has no cure.

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Image: tpmartins