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Welder Awaits Jury Decision

Jun 26, 2003 | Belleville News-Democrat A Madison County jury was still deliberating Wednesday night in the case of a Collinsville man who claims he developed Parkinson's disease at an early age because of welding rods.

The case is one of the first in the country to go to trial on the issue of whether welding rods contribute to the early onset of Parkinson's.

A few similar cases have been tried across the nation, but they were all decided in favor of the welding-rod makers.

The defendants are Lincoln Electric, Hobart Brothers and BOC Group, all makers of welding rods.

Elam worked for Union Electric in Missouri for 29 years. Elam sometimes did welding on the job and often worked around welders. The three defendants provided welding rods for Union Electric.

In the mid-1990s, at age 57, Elam began having tremors and walking with a shuffle. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a progressive movement disorder that affects more than 1 million Americans.

Later, Elam read news reports about a study conducted by neurologist Brad A. Racette at Washington University. Racette conducted research on a group of welders suffering from Parkinson's and reported in 2001 that welding might trigger an early onset of the disease.

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