What has been learned about PD and the Amish?
Researchers conducted a genetic study of Parkinson's disease in Holmes County, Ohio. The area is rolling farm country with a population of about 41,500 in 2008 and home to 19,000 Amish. Within this large Amish community is a population where most people are related to each other. In 2000 the single largest population group were the 27.3% of German descent and 8% of Swiss lineage compared to 16.9% who were of American descent. The shocking fact is that they have one of the highest rates of Parkinson's disease in the world.
When the study results came back, subjects with PD were shown to be no more inter-related than control subjects. This suggested that the PD cases must be triggered by environmental factors which differ in the Amish community but not in the balance of the population. And it is these factors that appear to account for almost all the cases of PD in Holmes County.
The first suspect area is private water well - subject to EPA inspection which doesn't occur in Lancaster, PA - livestock waste and grazing in streams from lack of fencing. Run-off into the wells from missing caps and missing or improper application of grout at the wellhead.
Another big problem is wells that are not deep enough to get below contaminated ground water. Bad drinking water with coliform bacteria and E Coli present in the water have been observed.
Hunting for the Whys of Parkinson's
National Water quality Assessment Program (NAWQA)
More Information about the Amish Community