Objective: To characterize specific health outcomes of people with potential exposure to chemicals used in dry cleaning.
Background: Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a chlorinated solvent used in dry cleaning since the 1950s. Exposure to TCE has been associated with a 500% increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD). TCE is also a known carcinogen and may increase the risk of certain cancers, specifically kidney, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate, and multiple myeloma. TCE contaminates soil and groundwater and can enter buildings through vapor intrusion.
Method: We evaluated law partners who worked adjacent to a site contaminated by TCE and other chlorinated-solvents between 1968 and 2001. In phase I of the study, potentially exposed partners (or a proxy on their behalf) completed a survey on work, neurologic, and health history. In phase II of the study, the same group of partners and a new group of attorneys, without known exposure, were invited to complete a clinical evaluation. We also reviewed medical records for potentially exposed deceased or incapacitated attorneys.
Results: Of the 82 law partners with potential exposure to TCE, 65 (79%) completed the phase I survey (54 self-respondents and 11 proxies). In phase II, 45 of the partners completed a clinical evaluation and 12 medical records were reviewed. Across phase I and phase II we evaluated 75 (91%) of the 82-partner cohort, of whom 60 were living (mean age 73.0 (SD=15.5), 8 female), and 15 were deceased (mean age 74.1 at death, (SD=9.9), 1 female). 72 presumably unexposed attorneys (mean age 64.9 years (SD=10.3), 25 female) completed an evaluation. In the potentially exposed cohort there were four cases of PD (5%) and one case of multiple system atrophy. In the comparison cohort there was one case of PD (1%). 14 (17%) potentially exposed attorneys reported TCE-linked cancers including kidney (1), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (1), prostate (10), and multiple myeloma (2). In the comparison group there were four cases of prostate cancer and one case of multiple myeloma (6%).
Conclusion: We found a higher than expected rate of PD and TCE-related cancers in this cluster of attorneys who worked adjacent to a site contaminated with dry cleaning chemicals. Longitudinal follow-up of this cohort and a more detailed evaluation of this exposure site and the potential health effects is warranted.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:M. Pawlik, S. Lettenberger, M. Zafar, M. Coffey, A. Sarkar, P. Auinger, C. Tanner, S. Goldman, B. de Miranda, K. Kieburtz, R. Barbano, M. Braun, H. Schwarz, D. Kinel, R. Dorsey. A Potential Cluster Near Site of Dry Cleaning Contamination [abstract]. Mov Disord. 2022; 37 (suppl 2). https://www.mdsabstracts.org/abstract/a-potential-cluster-near-site-of-dry-cleaning-contamination/. Accessed September 28, 2023.
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