Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Eleanor Rogan

Second Committee Member

JoEllyn M. McMillan

Third Committee Member

Jesse E. Bell

Fourth Committee Member

Cheryl L. Beseler


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a multifactorial disorder, connecting both genetic susceptibility and environmental risk factors. Several epidemiological and experimental studies support the evidence that pesticides exposure is positively associated with enhancing neurodegenerative diseases. The high amount of atrazine used in Nebraska and increased PD cases led us to evaluate the association between the long-lived water-soluble pesticide atrazine and PD in Nebraska counties. A person's exposure to atrazine may come from inhalation, dermal absorption, and ingestion. Three types of atrazine data covering 1992 to 2017 were used for this study: applied atrazine, atrazine in surface water, and atrazine in groundwater. In summary, surface water group-3 (≥ 75 percentile) is the only group that shows a positive association between atrazine levels and increased PD cases. All other groups didn't find any significant association between atrazine exposure and PD.

In the second part of the study, I found that 11.8% of 144 collected private wells samples were positive for atrazine. The water samples collected from the York County wells (7 out of 11) have the highest positive percentage for atrazine; however, only two well samples exceed the EPA maximum allowed concentration limit of 3 ppb for drinking waters. Further detailed analysis of atrazine combined with other pesticides exposure may better associate higher PD cases linked with pesticide exposure in Nebraska.