Pesticide use increases risk of Parkinson’s disease, new study finds

Exposure to pesticides can increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, concludes a broad, long-term study. Researchers followed the health of 143,325 people since 1982 and found that those regularly exposed to pesticides had a 70 percent higher incidence of Parkinson’s. The research, published in the Annals of Neurology, found that the amount of exposure seemed not to matter: occupational farmers, hobby gardeners, and determined home bug-sprayers all had the same increased risk. (Exposure to other harmful substances like asbestos and formaldehyde brought no increased risk of Parkinson’s.) No specific pesticides were pegged as culprits, though past studies have suggested a link between the disease and the class of ‘cides called organophosphates. Parkinson’s disease affects about 6.3 million people worldwide and over a million in the U.S.; the disease debilitates muscle control and can severely reduce a person’s ability to walk, talk, and maintain a pest-free lawn.