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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Caruso

Solvent Exposure Linked to Parkinson's Disease



Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a disabling degenerative disorder that affects up to 2% of persons over the age of 65. Organic solvent exposure due to occupation, and its effect on the risk of acquiring Parkinson’s Disease, has been a topic of study for many years. Recent medical evidence supports a strong association.


One such solvent, Trichloroethylene (TCE) was used extensively in military settings since World War I, and is it strongly linked to the long term risk of Parkinson's Disease.  People who work with TCE may inhale the chemical from the air and/or absorb it through the skin. 


TCE is widely known for its presence in Camp Lejeune drinking water, but it was also used routinely by the military as a cleaning agent for weapons, aircraft, and machinery.  Its effectiveness in removing oils, greases, and contaminants made it a staple in military maintenance operations. As such, TCE contaminates countless sites across the country, including half of the most toxic Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund sites.


MOS Associated with TCE Exposure Include:


Mechanics (MOS 49XXXX) - They perform maintenance and repair on vehicles, aircraft, and other equipment, which often involves using solvents for cleaning and de-greasing.

 

Aircraft Maintenance (MOS 21XXXX) - Similar to mechanics, aircraft maintainers use solvents for cleaning and degreasing aircraft parts. They may also be exposed to solvents used in paints, adhesives, and other materials.

 

Painters (MOS 35XXXX) - Painters use solvents for thinning paints, cleaning brushes, and removing paint.

 

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) (MOS 89XXXX) - EOD technicians may encounter solvents during operations to dispose of explosives or hazardous materials.

 

Seabees (MOS 11XXXX) - These construction specialists may use solvents for various tasks, such as cleaning tools and equipment or preparing surfaces for painting.

 

Fuelers (MOS 92XXXX) - Fuelers may be exposed to solvents used in cleaning fuel tanks and equipment.

 

Chemical Operations Specialist (Multiple Codes) - These soldiers test, handle and store hazardous materials, including organic solvents.

 

Unfortunately, Parkinson's Disease has long been considered an “elderly condition” so many Veterans do not consider their military exposure to solvents as a likely cause for the development of their PD. This is especially true because of the delayed onset of their symptoms in relation to their time in the military. Therefore, it’s very important that Veteran Advocates are aware of this connection, and that they consider exposure to solvents (through MOS), as a possible cause for Veteran's suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

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