In 1984 we made the first observation of a correlation between early age exposure to rural environment (and drinking well water) and development of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD).13 These findings were subsequently confirmed elsewhere (Barbeau, 1985 ;25 Tanner, 198526). Analysis of all early age onset IPD (EPD) cases born and raised in Saskatchewan revealed that 20 of 22 had exclusively rural exposure during the first 15 years of life. This distribution was significantly different from the general population (p = 0.0141). Further study of the EPD group included sampling and metal analysis of childhood sources of drinking water in 18 cases and 36 age and sex-matched controls. Water collected from the two groups was analyzed for 23 metals (including 7 elements implicated in the etiology of IPD). There was no difference in the metal composition of the water between the two groups.17 Finally, a review of herbicide and pesticide use in Saskatchewan agriculture was undertaken to determine if there was an increased incidence of EPD following utilization of any particular chemical. No increase was found in the incidence of EPD with the introduction of any pesticide or herbicide, including Paraquat, for agricultural use. We conclude that there is a strong correlation between early age rural environmental exposure and development of IPD. We believe well water is a likely vehicle for the causal agent, but neither water metal concentration nor any of the herbicides and pesticides used in Saskatchewan agriculture are related to the cause.
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