Thursday, August 13, 2009

Down on the Farm with Parkinson's Disease

Well Water or Sick Water?
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.

Outhouses and manure runoff are serious drinking water problems if water is not boiled. Lack of electricity means no refrigeration or freezers which make it difficult to safely store foods especially during hot Ohio summers.

On the other hand pesticides and herbicides as well as fertilizers are not used very much on Amish farms. However, there is some limited use often using uncalibrated communally used sprayers.

Moreover these farms are not always isolated but rather often intermingled with "the English" there is still a ground water pesticide/herbicide potential from neighboring farms. Critical proximity is 500 meters (547 yards). We already know that exposure to paraquat, diazinon, chlorpyrifos, propargite, dimethoate and methomyl definitely increases the risk of developing PD.

1 comment:

  1. It has been revealed that farm workers who were exposed to pesticides were most likely to develop Parkinson disease. Dependence on organochlorines has been known to be a problem as it includes the infamous DDT and chlordane. US government has banned these chemicals.


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