Trichlorethylene was once such a popular substance that it was added not only to various household chemicals, but even to some foods and medicines. Over time, it turned out that it provokes miscarriages and even causes cancer. For this reason, the use of trichlorethylene has been restricted in some countries, but it can still be found in many cleaners and detergents. But it seems that even in this form it is better to refuse to use it. In a new study, or rather, combining several old studies, scientists have found a rather unexpected effect on the body – trichlorethylene contributes to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
What is trichlorethylene and why is it used
Trichlorethylene, also known as trichlorethene, is a six-atomic molecule with the formula C2HCl3. Under normal conditions, it is a viscous transparent liquid with a sweetish odor reminiscent of the smell of chloroform. The density is about one and a half times higher than that of water.
Trichloroethene is an excellent solvent, so it is still used in everyday life. Especially often it can be found in degreasers for metal, as well as detergents for engines. Often it is added to insecticides (insect repellents) to enhance their properties. Also, the substance is often used for dry cleaning fabrics. Previously, it was also used to remove caffeine from coffee, added to anesthesia preparations, etc.
The peak of popularity of trichlorethylene in the world fell on the 70s of the last century. When its negative health effects were discovered, the use of the substance was restricted in the US and Europe, but it continues to be widely used in many countries to this day, especially in China.
However, according to scientists, even in those regions where the use of trichlorethylene is prohibited, people continue to be exposed to it, since the substance is found in soil and water in a sufficiently large amount.
Why Dry Cleaning is Dangerous to Your Health
As we said above, trichlorethylene is often used for dry cleaning fabrics. A recent study suggests that people who frequently use dry cleaning and generally come into contact with this substance are at risk of getting Parkinson’s disease. Earlier, we told in detail what kind of disease it is and what its danger is. This is a synthesis study, the results of which were recently published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.
In their work, the scientists combined several earlier studies that involved three industrial workers, one auto mechanic, and 198 twins. The latest study is particularly revealing. As you know, Parkinson’s disease is considered partially hereditary disease, therefore, twins should have the same risk of developing this disease. However, the study showed that the likelihood of developing the disease was five times higher in those people who often came into contact with trichlorethylene. The first link between trichlorethylene and Parkinson’s disease was discovered in 1969.
In addition, scientists cite studies that have shown the negative effects of trichlorethylene on animals. It is possible that this and other similar chemicals are responsible for the fact that the number of people with Parkinson’s disease has more than doubled in the last 30 years. Moreover, if the negative trend continues, then by 2040 the number of patients will double again. Obviously, such an increase in the incidence cannot be explained simply by hereditary factors. There are other unknown factors.
Why does a chemical cause Parkinson’s disease?
Scientists still cannot say how trichlorethylene affects the body and why it causes Parkinson’s disease. Additional research will be conducted to answer these questions. Now we only know that decades can pass between exposure to a substance and the onset of the disease, that is, the disease does not develop immediately.
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Finally, we recall that Parkinson’s disease is currently considered incurable. However, scientists are already working on some treatments that have tentatively shown to be effective. These include “cooling” the brain, the use of a special virus to “reprogram” the brain, as well as a drug based on a perfume additive. You can familiarize yourself with all these methods by clicking on the links.