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Workers exposed to pesticide have higher risk of Parkinson's

Even though Denver is a bustling city, parts of Colorado are still quite agricultural and that means that there are numerous people who work with pesticides nearly every day. Though pesticides are considered nontoxic, there is new evidence that links pesticide exposure to a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease. This could lead to long-term health issues for anyone in the agricultural industry.

Parkinson's disease is a central nervous system disorder that can seriously affect an individual, making it impossible to work. The most common signs of Parkinson's include shaking and loss of muscle control, making it very difficult or impossible to work. The National Parkinson Foundation has said that between 50,000 and 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's each year.

The recently released study found that pesticide exposure did not cause Parkinson's, but that it made it more likely that the disease would develop, even in people who were not genetically predisposed to the condition. The study looked at a group of 1,111 people, 357 of which had Parkinson's disease and 754 without. The group of people all lived within an agricultural area, but it is unknown how many people actually worked in the agricultural industry and interacted with the pesticide paraquat on a regular basis.

In the group of people with a Parkinson's diagnosis, 47 percent said that they had been exposed to the herbicide. Shockingly, only 39 percent of people without Parkinson's had been exposed to the chemical. The study also found that those who had suffered some kind of head injury and were exposed to paraquat were three times more likely to develop this disabling disease.

As Parkinson's disease progresses, it has the very real possibility of permanently preventing a Colorado employee from ever working again.

Source: Reuters, "Head injury, pesticides tied to Parkinson's disease," Genevra Pittman, Nov. 13, 2012

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