Veterans Affairs’ New Zealand has recognised that Parkinson’s is linked to a toxic solvent used within the Navy, both on ships and on shore, and will now be paying disability compensation.
The Royal New Zealand Navy used a number of chemical solvents on ships beginning in at least the 1950s. Among the chemical solvents was trichloroethylene (TCE), which is thought to be among the most damaging to human health, with links to a number of adverse health effects including Parkinson’s.
In the 1970s Parkinson’s New Zealand member George* (George’s name has been changed to protect his confidentiality) served on a Royal New Zealand Navy ship. Decades later, he is living with Parkinson’s, and Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand has recognised there is a connection.
In a landmark decision, Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand has agreed to provide George with an entitlement to disability compensation for Parkinson’s, a condition that is attributed to his operational service on a Royal New Zealand Navy ship during the Malayan Emergency.
The link between exposure to the chemical solvent TCE and Parkinson’s has been recognised by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, but George’s case is the only known case in which this link has been recognised.
The recognition from Veterans Affairs’ New Zealand that disabilities stemming from Parkinson’s can be attributed to exposures to TCE means that George will be entitled to receive disability compensation.