The public is becoming increasingly aware of the dangers that common chemicals pose, and a new study in Neurology is fueling that concern.

According to the article published in May, exposure to pesticides increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease by as much as 80%. Exposure to the weed killer paraquat is particularly toxic, yielding a 2-fold increase in the risk for Parkinson’s disease.

There is a growing awareness of the science of epigenetics, how environmental factors influence the expression of your genes. Essentially, toxic compounds in pesticides may interact with your DNA and affect which genes are turned on or off. Someone with a family history of Parkinson’s may have genes that predispose them to developing the disease, but according to epigenetics, it’s environmental factors that can turn risk into reality. Therefore, people with a family history of Parkinson’s should be even more careful when dealing with pesticides, including your household “Round-up” weed killer.

This study further reinforces the concern that poorly-tested compounds in our homes, products, and foods may lead to long-term health challenges. Since our risk increases with the length of exposure, these concerns are even greater for children.

Want to “green” up your life?  Visit the Environmental Working Group to learn more about common chemicals. This website even has a list of the fruits and vegetables that should be purchased organic vs. conventional based on how they absorb pesticides.