Start Collecting Data

To the editor:

I would particularly hope legislative leaders would take note:

in May of 2016 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Since then, I have witnessed a degradation in mobility and cognitive functioning. I am fortunate to be living in a time where drugs and exercise have a combined effect at slowing the disease’s progression; however, no cure exists.

With the above in mind, I would like the State of Vermont to begin the collection of data as it relates to the tracing of Parkinson’s. As outlined in “The Rise of Parkinson’s Disease” (E. Ray Dorsey, Todd Sherer, Michael S. Okun, Bastiaan R. Bloem for American Scientist) research reveals the rise of Parkinson’s in rural areas likely elevated by the presence of paraquat, rotenone and trichlorethylene. The first two are used in agricultural applications, while the latter is used in “washing away grease, cleaning silicon wafers, removing spots in dry cleaning.” Current evidence exists linking the above to increasing rates of Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no coordinated effort to gather data to establish rates and clusters of Parkinson’s diagnosis in Vermont. While this research may not lead directly to a cure, the establishment of patterns can lead to evidence supporting the ban of harmful chemicals. For example, “In Canada, investigators have found an almost perfect correlation between areas with the highest pesticide use and the highest rates of disease.” Furthermore, “[the] Netherlands is one of the few countries in the world where the rates of Parkinson’s disease are actually waning.” Research indicates a correlation of the wane with the Netherland’s ban on paraquat.

It is difficult to watch the onset of Parkinson’s on many of my neighbors, friends and leaders. Our state and country will witness increasing rates of Parkinson’s; research is predicting that the rate of Parkinson’s is set to overtake Alzheimer’s disease.

Please know that while my letter is specific to Parkinson’s, my efforts are also focused on the overall health of Vermont — its environment and its people.

Thank you for your time and consideration of the above.John Zaber
Craftsbury Common