Parkinson Treatment in Bangalore | Sakra World Hospital
Home Home Health Care Sakra Premium Clinic Sakra Clinic Robotic Surgery Pay Online


December, 2020

Prolonged Exposure to Pesticides May Increase the Risk of Parkinson's Disease: Find out Why?

risk of parkinson disease

Post-pandemic life has compelled us to be indoors and has left enough time to catch up with our hobbies. Likewise, several older adults who are nature lovers and are stuck within the four walls in the present times have started devoting more time to gardening and tending their balcony, rooftop and kitchen gardens. Spending time with nature is good for everyone to keep mental health active and engaged, but it can be dangerous for older adults. Nurturing plants and cultivating gardening as a hobby also means prolonged exposure to pesticides which is not good for older people. The latest study reveals disclosure to pesticides for a longer period of time significantly increases the risk of Parkinson's Disease, an age-related disorder of the central nervous system affecting movement, often causing tremors. Along with tremors, slowness in day to day activities (bradykinesia and rigidity) can increase the risk of falls in the elderly. It occurs when the nerve cell damage in the brain results in a drop in the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter produced by the body that acts as a chemical messenger and conveys messages between nerve cells. 

Pesticides and Parkinson’s - decoding the link

Several studies conducted earlier have found a correlation between two commonly used pesticides - paraquat and maneb and Parkinson's Disease. Interestingly, it has been now determined that even low-level exposure to these pesticides disrupts cells in a manner that it mimics the impact of mutation that is known to cause Parkinson's Disease. The fact that these chemicals can adversely affect the cells and increase the risk of Parkinson's Disease onset is a matter of deep concern in the context of elderly health. Adding more to the worry, the study has also shown that those exposed to these chemicals are at about a 250% higher risk of getting hit by Parkinson's Disease compared to those who are not exposed. 

Parkinson's Disease affects the dopamine-producing neurons. When such neurons are exposed to paraquat and maneb, the energy-producing mitochondria are found to be barred from moving where they are needed inside the cell, bankrupting the neurons of energy. People having a predisposition of Parkinson's disease are more prone to get affected by low-level exposure to the chemicals and put themselves at a far greater risk of developing the condition. 

Genetic predisposition increases the risk of Parkinson's Disease due to exposure to pesticides

When pesticides enter the body, the enzymatic detoxification systems in our body present in the liver start metabolising them in an attempt to flush them out. Unfortunately, this mechanism does not work for those with a tendency to suffer from Parkinson's Disease as a genetic mutation may alter the enzymes and make them ineffective to cope with the exposure to chemicals. 

Preventing exposure to pesticides: Methods to minimise and avoid exposure

Avoid getting exposed to these chemicals for long to prevent the increased risk of Parkinson's Disease due to them. In order to do that, it is essential to follow certain tips. 

  • Ensure that you are using original pesticides with the label attached. Follow the exact directions when applying pesticides. Do not increase or reduce the ratio of the products.   

  • Wear protective clothing as described on the label and keep the clothes separated from living spaces. 

  • Do not smoke, drink and eat while using pesticides. 

  • Mix pesticides in the open or in a well-ventilated area and use only the amount needed for the immediate job. 

  • Do not use the measuring cups and spoons used for pesticides to prepare food, even if they are washed.

  • Do not let pesticides contaminate food or food preparation surfaces. Ventilate thoroughly after indoor applications.

  • Avoid using fogging products. If you do use a fogger, read label directions carefully and don’t use more than required for the size of the space being treated.

  • Always close containers correctly, even when only stopping for a break or between mixings.

  • Clean up spills promptly according to label directions. Liquid pesticides are usually scattered with sawdust, kitty litter or vermiculite and mobed into a plastic bag for proper disposal.

  • Wash your hands and other parts exposed to chemicals and rinse gloves and shoes.

  • Change your clothes after applying pesticides and wash soiled clothes separately from other clothes in hot water and detergent.

  • Store and dispose of the pesticides in the proper way as mentioned on the label. 

Parkinson’s Disease does not have any treatment as yet. All that can be done is adopting ways to control the condition. Hence, it is wise to adopt smart strategies to stay away from the risk factors of Parkinson’s Disease. Understanding how exposure to pesticides increases risk and taking efficient measures to reduce exposure may extensively help in reducing the chances of developing the neurodegenerative condition.



Dr Shiva Kumar R.

Senior Consultant - Neurology & Epileptology

Contact Us
scam alert