Trichloroethylene and Autoimmunity

Trichloroethylene and Autoimmunity

The other day, someone responded to me asking why there is so much thyroid disorder and whether it is increasing or only being diagnosed more often. The part that has always confused me is what is causing the autoimmunity. I feel qualified to be an armchair speculator about some other aspects of thyroid disorders - but why do so many come down with autoimmune forms?

A recent paper suggest that Trichloroethylene has a role in autoimmunity (and hypersensitivity). This is an organic solvent which was widely used in many roles throughout much of the last century.

Considering this substance was used for dry cleaning, vegetable oil extraction, decaffeination of coffee, general anaesthetic (especially during birth), it is very likely that we have all had some exposure - and the older ones of us, quite a bit of exposure.

However, it is in much lower use these days so human exposure, at least in the UK, has probably reduced considerably.

I believe that decaffeination of coffee no longer uses organic solvents - so don't avoid decaffeinated coffee on those grounds. (Ha!)

Trichloroethylene has all sorts of other nasty effects such as causing cancers to Parkinson's disease - I was here trying to focus exclusively on the autoimmunity aspect.

Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Dec 18. [Epub ahead of print]

Human Health Effects of Trichloroethylene: Key Findings and Scientific Issues.

Chiu WA, Jinot J, Scott CS, Makris SL, Cooper GS, Dzubow RC, Bale AS, Evans MV, Guyton KZ, Keshava N, Lipscomb JC, Barone S Jr, Fox JF, Gwinn MR, Schaum J, Caldwell JC.

Source

National Center for Environmental Assessment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In support of the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed a Toxicological Review of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in September, 2011, the result of an effort spanning over twenty years.

OBJECTIVES:

This article reviews key findings and scientific issues regarding the human health effects of TCE in EPA's Toxicological Review.

METHODS:

This assessment synthesized and characterized thousands of epidemiologic, experimental animal, and mechanistic studies, and addressed several key scientific issues through modeling of TCE toxicokinetics, meta-analyses of epidemiologic studies, and analyses of mechanistic data.

DISCUSSION:

Toxicokinetic modeling aided in characterizing the toxicological role of the complex metabolism and multiple metabolites of TCE. Meta-analyses of the epidemiologic data informed the conclusion that TCE causes kidney cancer in humans and provided strong evidence that TCE may also cause liver cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Mechanistic analyses support a key role for mutagenicity in TCE-induced kidney carcinogenicity. Recent evidence from both human and experimental animal studies indicates the involvement of TCE exposure in autoimmune disease and hypersensitivity. Recent avian and in vitro mechanistic studies provide biological plausibility that TCE plays a role in developmental cardiac toxicity, the subject of substantial debate due to mixed results from epidemiologic and rodent studies.

CONCLUSIONS:

TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure and poses a potential human health hazard for non-cancer toxicity to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system, male reproductive system, and the developing embryo/fetus.

PMID:

23249866

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/232...

Wiki article on the substance:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trich...

Rod

[Added 06/01/2013 10:25: If you have got this far, you may be interested that being exposed to mercury at the same time has even greater effects.

Toxicol Sci. 2011 Feb;119(2):281-92. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq345. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

Coexposure to mercury increases immunotoxicity of trichloroethylene.

Gilbert KM, Rowley B, Gomez-Acevedo H, Blossom SJ.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/210...

Wonder if this co-exposure issue is why the dental establishment continually finds little or no impact when others disagree with that?]

10 Replies

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  • Certainly getting dangerous trying to live these days! It is one half of the

    world against the other it seems. We really have to start saying NO to chemicals, but so hard to tell everything they are in.

  • On the other hand castor oil plant produces one of the most potent poisons known, as do fugu fish.

  • That may be true, but at least we can make an informed decision and not eat Castor Oil Plant (or keep it in the house) and as for fugu - who wants to eat that anyway?

    But when it come to harmful chemicals in the everyday environment or in food, it is scandalous that more action is not taken to protect us all especially now we are more aware.

    A typical example is a recent issue regarding a waste incinerator near Kings Lynn which will be very close to human habitation and farmland (which produces a huge amount of this country's food, being at the border of Norfolk and Lincolnshire) resulting in chemical emissions entering the UK food chain. It had almost universal rejection in a referendum yet the government has given the go-ahead - and even earmarked £83 million towards the cost, at a time of cuts elsewhere.

    This link explains the kind of emissions from such a plant.

    klwin.com/incineration/why-...

    I rarely, if ever, eat processed food, as I detest artificial additives, but factors such as solvents and chemicals in the environment are unavoidable.

  • I work in a drycleaner,and have often wondered if it effected my thyroid,I have seen the risks of cancer.

  • Trichloroethylene continued in use as a spot cleaner long after being abandoned for bulk dry cleaning. Apparently (Wiki says).

  • That's an interesting one Rod. I worked in adhesives development in the 80s (as a systems development engineer, not as a chemist) - and the stuff (trichloroethylene) had been phased out of common usage as a general cleaning solvent in the labs and in manufacturing in the company by then.

    My impression though is that it was at times used in product formulations and in certain processes.

    We had all kinds of stuff in the place (most of the common polymerising adhesive chemistries), and while most of it wasn't to my knowledge overtly dangerous as such i've often wondered if it didn't play a part in my running into auto immune based thyroid trouble by the early 1990s....

    There's been a lot of resistance to incinerators here in Ireland. The risk from what's about (they say) seems to be that minor operating errors can lead to their running below certain critical temperatures - with the result that dioxins and the like can be emitted in the exhaust.

    We've long experience of official negligence and incompetence over here, but stuff still gets forced through at times. The other issue is that it seems so often that stuff like this that was deemed 'safe' turns out longer term to not have been so.

    One of the major issues with this sort of thing is that the bureaucracy tends to be led by the law - and the problem with the law is that it doesn't put the onus on the proposers of stuff to prove that they are safe - it's instead deemed OK if nobody seems to be able to prove in absolute terms that it's unsafe.

    Which leaves a very large grey area that we as the punter always end up picking up the risk in. Doesn't leave much room for the application of (often intuitive) wisdom and knowing either - it a charter for vested interests to get their way....

    ian

  • IT IS VERY SCARY, WHAT CAN WE DO ? DOES OUR GOVERMENT GIVE A FIG TO WHAT WE THINK,I THINK THEY WILL DO ANYTHING FOR GREED AT WHATEVER COST TO OUR NATIONS HEALTH, I WORRY FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN, DOES OUR GOVERMENT THINK ABOUT THEIR FAMILY OR IS THEIR HEAD AND EGO MORE IMPORTANT, I DESPAIR AND WISH WE COULD CHANGE THINGS FOR THE BETTER!!

  • I watched an episode of " House " the other night where the pathologist went hypothyroid from using too much hand cleanser containing triclosan. You can get toothpaste with triclosan in it - doubly whammy from the fluoride and the triclosan together. Why do they put this rubbish in our everyday food, cleaners and cosmetics?

  • A number of years ago Sainsbury started proclaiming tricolsan in the chopping boards - for sale and behind the counter, etc. No idea if they still do.

    I'm somewhat disappointed that they didn't have a bumper thyroid episode where a dozen people with different symptoms, backgrounds, and everything else, all got diagnosed (correctly) as hypo. :-)

    (Have not yet watched series 8! Box lying on sofa since this morning...)

  • Rod. I also have wondered why the huge increase in autoimmune conditions over the last 36 years. When Dr. Barnes published his book in 1976 he didn't even mention Hashimotos and now it is the number one thyroid condition. I have long suspected the increased amount of chemicals in the environment, including the food chain, and/or the changes in diet. Hopefully there will be more research in this direction. Thank you for the article. PR

    PS This is a 18 minuteTED talk you might enjoy about how bacteria communicate.

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