Common dry-cleaning chemical could be a cause of Parkinson’s disease, scientists say

A chemical commonly used to dry clean clothes could be key contributor to the sharp rise in the spread of Parkinson’s disease in the United States, according to a paper published on Tuesday.

Twelve scientists specializing in medical research said they found important “circumstantial” evidence linking the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) to the doubling of global instances of Parkinson’s disease over the past 30 years. In their paper, published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, the scientists called for much more research and regulation of TCE, warning that “widespread contamination and increasing industrial, commercial and military use,” pose a dire public health threat.

“TCE may be the most important cause of Parkinson’s disease in urban environments in the US,” said Ray Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the lead author on the paper.

TCE is one of multiple environmental pollutants implicated in the rise of Parkinson’s disease. Research has also linked particulate air pollution and certain pesticides, including paraquat herbicide, to the disease. Head trauma and genetic factors also play a role, according to research findings.