I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014 at the age of 58. Read about some of my personal reflections on the possible causes of the disease.

Herbicides, pesticides and Parkinson’s? 

Childhood in the fifties and sixties: In my grandmother’s garden there was a shed that contained a hoe, rake and spade as well as a smorgasbord of chemicals. I still have the smell of blue corn fertilizer in my nose, there was spray against the aphids on grandmother’s well-kept roses, and even a dusty can of E 605 was on the shelf. Already able to read, I left it alone thanks to the warning on the label. My way to elementary school led through the vineyards, past vines that were diligently “sprayed” in the summer. Who knows what critical amounts of pollutants I was exposed to during those childhood years? After all: we had been warned by our parents not to snack on the sprayed grapes.

Heavy metal. 

My generation still remembers the time when there were no freezers. For stocking, vegetables and fruits were filled into the “WECK” jars and “eingeweckt” in the matching pot, i.e. sterilized and tightly sealed. The mighty pot was equipped with a large mercury thermometer to control the “Einweck” process. How many of these pots and thermometers have ended up in the basement or on the storage or even on the bulky waste after purchasing a “G’freeze” including mercury thermometers? I remember that I was particularly impressed by the mercury: the large glass thermometer contained a very considerable amount of it. Occasionally, I’ve broken one open and watched with fascination the mercury spheres, first on the table, then on the floor, dividing and reuniting, and finally disappearing into the cracks of the wooden floor…

Solvents and fine dusts. 

The moped phase came at the age of a teenager. This included fantasizing about making the hot stove go faster by screwing around endlessly. Ergo: Disassemble the engine into all individual parts, clean with fuel, then re-oil or re-apply the oil. grease and assemble. All this, of course, without gloves, let alone respiratory protection. After the mopeds came cars. But what kind… The dented rust buckets required extensive cosmetic treatment with sanding, priming, epoxy filling, sanding again and painting. Sanding dust and paint fumes included. Next to the garage, there was the good room. Beautiful old real wood furniture from grandmother or from the bulky waste. There was always something to be stripped, sanded and (if it looked too woody when stripped…) varnished, of course with synthetic resin varnish, there was no talk of water-based varnish back then. And at the end, plenty of nitro thinner to clean the brush.

Trichloroethane and the like…

Trichloroethane and the like in the architects and graphic design offices. In the pre-computer era, we used TippEx and glue every day, especially the wonderfully aromatic “FixoGum”. I think the exposure to TippEx is particularly relevant, since you always had the bottle on your desk right in front of your nose. In addition there were the still ammonia-damp large-format light tracings, daily delivered fresh from the blue print service, which involved intensive skin contact when unfolded and folded. The icing on the cake were the strong “edding” felters, occasionally forebodingly discredited as stinkers.

Andreas Schairer