Parkinson's disease linked to pesticides

24th April 2007
News web pic 2_217.jpg
The link between exposure to chemical pesticides and Parkinson’s disease has become even clearer, following the release of data from two new studies, ENN reports.

Scientists have demonstrated that farm labourers who are exposed to the weedkiller ‘paraquat’ are two to three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, the degenerative brain condition that leads to paralysis.

A second study showed that animals exposed to paraquat develop a build-up of the protein alpha-synuclein in their brains. Alpha-synuclein has been linked to cell death in Parkinson’s patients

Although the increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in farm workers has been suspected for some time, the link is difficult to prove statistically owing to the long periods of time between the initial exposure to pesticides and the onset of illness. These new studies made a breakthrough by determining pesticide exposure through examination of farm records, determining when pesticides had been bought.

Recent research has suggested that by 2030, the number of people suffering from Parkinson’s in the world’s 15 most populous countries could rise to 8.7 million, an increase of more than 4.6 million on today’s figures.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist April 2007


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate now.