Environmental Exposures and the Impact of Trichloroethylene on Parkinson Disease: Samuel M. Goldman, MD, MPH


The clinical professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, talked about the association between contaminated water and Parkinson disease. [WATCH TIME: 6 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 6 minutes

“We found a 70% higher risk of Parkinson disease in veterans who lived at Camp Lejeune, compared with veterans who lived at Camp Pendleton in California during the same timeframe, between 1975 and 1985. Presumably, Camp Pendleton's water supply was not contaminated with [trichloroethylene] and [tetrachloroethylene].”

In the United States and globally, millions of people are exposed to trichloroethylene (TCE) through various sources such as air, food, and water. Although limited, prior research showed an increased risk of Parkinson disease (PD) with exposure to the solvent TCE. More recently, a published study demonstrated an increased risk of PD in veterans who were formerly stationed at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base where water was contaminated with TCE and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).1

The study included 340,489 service members who were stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune or other Marine Corps bases between 1975 and 1985. The crude prevalence rate of PD was higher in Camp Lejeune veterans compared with those stationed at Camp Pendleton (0.33% vs 0.21%), a base with uncontaminated water, resulting in a 70% higher rate (OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.39-2.07). Also, residence at Camp Lejeune was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of prodromal risk scores (internal: OR, 1.14 [95% CI, 1.03-1.26]; Movement Disorders Society: OR, 1.18 [95% CI, 1.06-1.32]) and an overall increased PD risk of 14% to 20% among men.

Lead author Samuel M. Goldman, MD, MPH, clinical professor, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, sat down in an interview with NeurologyLive® to discuss the origins behind the study. He also talked about the primary contaminants in the water at Camp Lejeune, and how levels compared to permissible limits. In addition, Goldman spoke about how the study's focus on environmental exposures helps to broaden the understanding of TCE and the risk of PD.

1. Goldman SM, Weaver FM, Stroupe KT, et al. Risk of Parkinson Disease Among Service Members at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. JAMA Neurol. 2023;e231168. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2023.1168
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