High Rates of Parkinson’s in Israeli Arab Communities Linked to Pesticides


spraying pesticidesNeed another reason to eat organic?  Or at least pesticide-free?

In a study to be published this month, Israeli researchers examining the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in the Wadi Ara communities in northern Israel found an unusually high prevalence of the disease in Baqa al-Gharbiyeh. 

Baqa al-Gharbiyeh, an Arab community, has an incidence of 73.39 cases per 100,000 residents, in comparison to surrounding communities like Umm al-Fahm (34.84 cases), Kafr Qara (25.45), and Ara and Arara (18.45 cases).

The reason for this disparity, the researchers explain, is exposure to agricultural pesticides.

Dr. Rafik Masalha, head of the epilepsy clinic at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva, explains: “In Baqa there is higher exposure to industrial agriculture, which includes the use of pesticides, and there are many more farmers compared to other communities in Wadi Ara, whose livelihood is more based on urban work or construction. It was proved that pesticides inhaled can affect the brain stem, which is responsible for the production of dopamine.”

Dopamine is a vital brain chemical. Deficiency causes Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system that affects motor skills and speech.

According to the research, residents of Baqa al-Gharbiyeh are exposed to pesticides that are dumped by small airplanes. They may also be exposed to pesticides by drinking contaminated water, although the Israeli Ministry of Health says it has not recorded any unusual concentrations of pesticides in Baqa al-Gharbiyeh’s drinking water.  A statement released by the Ministry stated:

“The use of pesticides in Israel is reasonable and under supervision. Well water is examined routinely and meets the strictest standards set by the World Health Organization and the U.S. health authorities. If pollution is found in a well, it is shut down. Pollution in wells as a result of pesticides is rare in Israel.”

To date, the Ministry of Health does not maintain a database on Parkinson’s patients, so this research is the first to discuss the disease within the context of community and environmental health.

More on pesticide use related to Israel and the Middle East:
Turkey Bans 74 Pesticides for the EU
Make Bugs, Not Pesticides
Souls Wait for Heaven as Toxic Pesticides From Israel Pulled from Sunken Ferry

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2 thoughts on “High Rates of Parkinson’s in Israeli Arab Communities Linked to Pesticides”

  1. Processed food and things that you buy at a store in general freak me out. I mean, we don’t truly know what’s in them. All we know is what we are told. I eat what’s easiest for me and I’m sure it’s really bad for all of us to continue this.

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