Two years ago, researchers announced they had discovered a link between Parkinson’s disease and two chemicals commonly sprayed on crops to fight pests. The study examined people who simply lived near where farm fields were sprayed with the fungicide maneb and the herbicide paraquat. It found that the risk for Parkinson’s disease for these people increased by 75% .

Now they have implicated a third pesticide, ziram, in the pathology of Parkinson’s disease, and instead of looking just at whether people lived near fields that were sprayed, they looked at where everyone worked, including non-farmworkers like teachers, firefighters and clerks who worked near, but not in, the fields. They found that the combined exposure to ziram, maneb and paraquat near any workplace increased the risk of Parkinson’s disease to three times normal and that exposure to ziram and paraquat alone was associated with an 80% increase in risk.

Researcher Bate Ritz says, "This stuff drifts. It’s borne by the wind and can wind up on plants and animals, float into open doorways or kitchen windows–up to several hundred meters from the fields." And MORE pesticide spraying is likely to go on in the future. Despite the popularity of organic foods, the continued growth of cropland and loss of natural habitat is associated with an increased number of pests and thus with more insecticide use.

Researchers have now found the gene for Parkinson’s, meaning that you are more likely to be affected by spraying if you have this gene, so if there’s Parkinson’s or any other degenerative nerve disease in your family, you should be especially careful to avoid pesticides.

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