04 February 2005

Welders and Parkinson's Disease

There is now a study linking welding with Parkinsonian symptoms.

Welders Show Elevated Rate of Parkinson Symptoms
By Amy Norton
Thu Feb 3, 2005 04:48 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Welders may have a higher-than-average rate of Parkinson's disease symptoms, the results of a new study suggest.

Researchers found that among more than 1,400 welders from Alabama, the prevalence of Parkinson-like symptoms, including tremor, muscle rigidity and slowed movement, was 7 to 10 times higher than the norm for the general population.

The findings, based on a group of mostly male welders between the ages of 40 and 69 years, are published in the journal Neurology.

In an earlier study of 15 career welders, the same investigators found that the men started suffering Parkinson's symptoms at an atypically early age --- at age 46 on average, versus age 63 in a comparison group of non-welders. That led the researchers to speculate that an as yet unknown toxin in welding fumes might speed the onset of Parkinson's disease in people who would likely have developed the disease at an older age.

[Reuters Health]

Dr. Bruce A. Racette of Washington University School of Medicine, the lead researcher of the study claims that this study is the largest one ever made, and smaller studies made before showed no link between welsing and Parkinson's.

The study is a good start and should be pursued by other researchers. Welding fumes can contain a lot of harmful toxins, and though manganese may be the foremost culprit, there should be more studies done to confirm this.

In the Philippines, there are a lot of welders who do not even know this, and if you see them you will note the absence of any protective gear to shield them from the welding fumes. Employers of such welders should take note of this development and protect the welders.

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