Researchers are seeking volunteers from the farming community for a new study, which aims to investigate the potential link between pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease on Irish farms.
Aideen Sullivan of University College Cork’s Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience is spearheading the study.
Professor Sullivan explained that in laboratory settings, certain pesticides can cause Parkinson’s symptoms in rodents.
Research in other countries
Research in several other countries has established a link between pesticide use and the risk of developing Parkinson’s.
Large US studies show that individuals with Parkinson’s are twice as likely to report exposure to pesticides in their lifetime.
Furthermore, other studies have found that individuals who have prolonged exposure to pesticides have a 70% higher rate of developing Parkinson’s.
In France, the highest rates of Parkinson’s are in areas of vineyards, specifically those with high fungicide use.
She stated that there is no data on the use of specific types of pesticides and their relationship to Parkinson’s in Ireland.
Wider ag communities
In addition to farm workers, the wider agricultural communities in Ireland can be exposed to pesticides, as these chemicals sometimes travel in the air.
She explained that some farming pesticides are highly persistent and can be found in treated soils and dust up to decades after application.
“Rural living can mean people are exposed to pesticides through the air or well water.”
“Our study aims to understand how the use of pesticides may be linked to people with Parkinson’s, as well as their families. We aim to gather information on the environmental risks associated with Parkinson’s in Ireland,” she said.
About the disease:
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common degenerative brain disorders, affecting 1 in every 100 people over 60.
Over the next 20 years, the number of people living with Parkinson’s could double from 6.5 million to 13 million.
At present, around 12,000 people in Ireland are living with Parkinson’s.
Professor Sullivan, Dr. Lucy Collins Stack and their postgraduate researchers will attend the National Ploughing Championships to seek volunteers for the survey. They will be located at Unit 42 in Stand 593 (The Dome).
To take part in this research and participate in an online survey, please follow this link.
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