Posted on August 10th, 2020
Years after being assigned to US military installations, thousands of active-duty service members and civilians, such as family members of military officers living on military bases, developed serious medical conditions and illnesses, including some neurologic disorders, which many believe were caused by exposure to toxic agents.
Veterans who served at various military bases in the United States may have been exposed to various chemicals found to cause cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. Some of these chemicals include the following:
TCE, a degreasing agent in metal cleaning which has been widely used at military bases to remove lubricants and other contaminants from parts while conducting repairs or maintenance, has been documented at low exposure levels to cause several types of neurological deficit. TCE enters the atmosphere from vapor degreasing operations or volatilization from contaminated soils, surface waters via direct discharges, and groundwater through leaching from disposal operations and hazardous waste sites. In addition, TCE can be released into indoor air via vapor intrusion through walls and floors from contaminated soil and groundwater.
Chemical exposure can lead to various chronic health conditions that worsen over time and require years of medical management. For example, accumulating evidence suggests that long-term exposure to low levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) may cause deficits in energy, mood, memory, attention, and psychomotor functioning. In addition, some studies in humans suggest that exposure to TCE might lead to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease.
Researchers based their studies on previous findings that show exposure to environmental toxins may raise the risk of developing the disease by increasing the rate of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, leading to cellular damage. For example, oxidative stress plays an important role in the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons leading to Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder that affects nerve cells, or neurons, in the part of the brain that controls movement. It is a chronic and slowly progressive disorder, which means that the symptoms get worse over time. There are five different stages of Parkinson's disease that measure the severity of symptoms; knowing your own individual risk factors can help you detect symptoms in the beginning stages.