Pesticides and Parkinson's disease--is there a link?

Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Feb;114(2):156-64. doi: 10.1289/ehp.8095.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is an idiopathic disease of the nervous system characterized by progressive tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability. It has been postulated that exogenous toxicants, including pesticides, might be involved in the etiology of PD. In this article we present a comprehensive review of the published epidemiologic and toxicologic literature and critically evaluate whether a relationship exists between pesticide exposure and PD. From the epidemiologic literature, there does appear to be a relatively consistent relationship between pesticide exposure and PD. This relationship appears strongest for exposure to herbicides and insecticides, and after long durations of exposure. Toxicologic data suggest that paraquat and rotenone may have neurotoxic actions that potentially play a role in the development of PD, with limited data for other pesticides. However, both the epidemiology and toxicology studies were limited by methodologic weaknesses. Particular issues of current and future interest include multiple exposures (both pesticides and other exogenous toxicants), developmental exposures, and gene-environment interactions. At present, the weight of evidence is sufficient to conclude that a generic association between pesticide exposure and PD exists but is insufficient for concluding that this is a causal relationship or that such a relationship exists for any particular pesticide compound or combined pesticide and other exogenous toxicant exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Pollutants / poisoning*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology*
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics
  • Pesticides / poisoning*
  • Toxicity Tests


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Pesticides