If you or a loved one used or were exposed to paraquat and were subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be eligible to file a Paraquat lawsuit. You might be entitled to compensation.
Paraquat, also known by the brand name Gramoxone, is one of the most widely used industrial herbicides on the market. Its primary use is to control grass and weeds in many agriculture areas and many farmers also apply the herbicide pre-harvest on some crops. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most dangerous herbicides on the market. Paraquat is so dangerous that it is either banned or phased out in 32 countries worldwide. These countries include China, the European Union, and Brazil. It’s still used in the United States, though regulators have restricted it to commercial use only because of its toxicity.
Recent studies were conducted by the National Institute of Health’s Environmental Health Sciences and the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center. They found that people exposed to paraquat developed Parkinson’s disease up to 2.5 times more often than people who were not. Despite these risks, companies like Syngenta, Growmark, and Chevron continue to make and sell the herbicide without the proper warnings.
Despite these risks, companies like Syngenta, Growmark, and Chevron continue to make and sell the herbicide without the proper warnings.
Manufacturers of consumer products are required to perform safety tests, meet all quality standards and provide adequate warnings of potential risks before releasing them to the public. If there’s a risk associated with using the product, they must provide warning labels so consumers understand the dangers they could encounter. Syngenta and Chevron who are the two largest paraquat producers have failed to warn consumers of known health risks of their products. Researchers have discovered that long-term exposure to paraquat can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and cause other serious health complications.
At FrancoLaw, we understand the consequences of suffering from an illness or disease brought on by a dangerous product. If the manufacturer didn’t provide adequate warnings about the harmful effects of using their product, then they can be held liable for their negligent conduct.
For a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your injury and determine the available legal options, call FrancoLaw today at (888) 213-0761.
Is Paraquat in the herbicide Roundup?
No, Monsanto’s Roundup does not contain paraquat. Roundup’s active ingredient is glyphosate. While exposure to glyphosate has been linked to cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, experts have linked paraquat exposure to Parkinson’s disease. There is separate litigation involving Roundup.
What is Paraquat?
The herbicide Paraquat has been commercially available since 1962 and is one of the most widely used herbicides around the world. It’s utilized to control weeds and as a post-harvest drying agent.
As a restricted-use herbicide, paraquat can be mixed, loaded, and/or applied only by individuals who have completed an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved training program. The herbicide is associated with a high potential for misuse, as well as poisonings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) follows paraquat because the agency considers it to be more toxic than other herbicides. The chemical’s toxicity manifests through ingestion, skin-absorption, and inhalation. Besides causing burns, the herbicide is known as a possible cause of birth defects and cancer, as well as of Parkinson’s disease.
Paraquat is one of only two herbicides still being used in the U.S. that have already been banned or are in the process of being phased out in China, EU, and Brazil.
U.S. farmers currently use more than 8 million pounds each year. Farmers of such crops as peanuts, citrus, wheat, soy, corn, almonds, artichokes, garlic, pears, strawberries, grapes, sweet potatoes, and cotton use paraquat.
Common Paraquat Products
Paraquat is manufactured by various agrochemical companies under different brand names. Syngenta and Chevron are two of the largest paraquat producers. Some of the most common paraquat products include:
- Gramoxone SL 2.0
- Para-Shot 3.0
- Cyclone SL 2.0
- Helmquat 3SL
Individuals Most at Risk for Paraquat Exposure
Since paraquat is highly restricted, most people at risk for exposure are those who apply, mix, or load the weed killer, including:
- Farmers and farmworkers
- Agriculture workers
- Crop dusters
- Herbicide applicators
- Chemical mixers
- Tank fillers
In 1997, the EPA confirmed that the primary route of exposure to paraquat occurred during the weed killer’s preparation, application, and post-application. To minimize exposure risk, regulations require those who work with the highly toxic chemical to use chemical-resistant gloves made of barrier laminate, butyl rubber, nitrile rubber, neoprene rubber, natural rubber, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or Viton. Applicators also must use respiratory protection and safety glasses that include splash guards. Mixers and loaders must add a full-face shield and a chemical-resistant apron.
Paraquat isn’t available for household use, but the EPA also said that individuals who live near farms using paraquat risk exposure to the weed killer. In 2009, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology backed up this finding, revealing that people who lived within 500 meters (about 1,600 feet) of paraquat use had a 75% increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Coincidentally, the American Parkinson Disease Association reported that individuals who met any of the following criteria were more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease:
- Farming as an occupation
- Exposure to farm animals
- Living on a farm
- Exposure to pesticides
- Well water drinking
- Living in a rural area
Paraquat Exposure Side Effects and Poisoning
Research shows that paraquat exposure is dangerous, even at low levels. Paraquat exposure can occur through ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation. In some cases, exposure to the herbicide can cause paraquat poisoning. The herbicide can enter the body via:
- Skin: Contact or penetration of the skin, mucous membranes, and other epithelial tissues (including mouth, nose, trachea, and conducting airways, particularly where cuts, abrasions, rashes, sores, or other tissue damage are present).
- Inhalation: Spray droplets enter the nose or mouth.
- Ingestion: The liquid chemical is swallowed.
According to the EPA, “one small sip [of paraquat] can be fatal and there is no antidote.” In general, people who accidentally or intentionally ingest paraquat may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Acute kidney failure
- Heart issues
- Liver failure
- Lung scarring
- Muscle weakness
- Pulmonary edema
- Respiratory failure possibly leading to death
Most paraquat applicators who repeatedly use the herbicide as intended are exposed at chronic, low doses. Even at this level of exposure, paraquat is capable of causing severe side effects, including:
- Eye damage: Conjunctivitis, destruction of the ocular surface, and keratitis.
- Skin damage: Ranging from reddening and blistering to severe burns.
- Parkinson’s disease: Studies show that the risk of Parkinson’s disease increases with long-term exposure to paraquat.
- Respiratory arrest: Ingestion of paraquat can cause lung fibrosis and death due to respiratory failure.
- Other damage: Paraquat can harm kidney, liver, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular health.
Paraquat Linked to Parkinson’s Disease
The body of scientific research linking paraquat and Parkinson’s disease has continued to grow in recent years. Several studies have concluded that exposure to paraquat increases the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease and that the effect is exposure dependent. The research suggests that farmworkers and pesticide applicators are more at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. People who live near fields and other areas where paraquat is heavily used may also be more at risk for this disease.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people can experience difficulty walking and talking. They may also experience mental and behavioral changes, sleep problems, depression, and memory difficulties. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but medications and sometimes brain surgery can help improve symptoms.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by the breaking down and dying of certain nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Many of the symptoms associated with the disorder are blamed on the loss of neurons that produce messengers called dopamine. Why this occurs remains a mystery. Researchers believe genetic mutations, environmental factors, and specific changes in the brain may play a role in developing Parkinson’s disease.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
The four main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Tremor in the hands, arms, legs, jaw, or neck
- Stiffness in the limbs and trunk
- Slow movements
- Impaired balance and coordination, which can make someone prone to falls
Other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Emotional changes
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking
- Urinary problems or constipation
- Skin problems
- Sleep disruptions
A number of recent studies have found that exposure to paraquat significantly increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
- In 2009, research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that any exposure to paraquat within 1,600 feet of a home resulted in a heightened Parkinson’s disease risk of 75 percent.
- In 2011, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, in association with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, published results from a robust study of Parkinson’s disease cases and pesticides. Within this study, paraquat emerged as a significant concern. Parkinson’s disease was connected to groups of pesticides that block mitochondrial complex and those that cause oxidative stress. The way paraquat works is to produce intracellular molecules that damage cells by causing oxidative stress. The study concluded that “Parkinson’s disease was strongly associated with” Paraquat. The authors further underscored that the potential for exposure to paraquat reaches beyond the occupational/agricultural environment and that many people may be exposed to the pesticide without even being aware of its presence in their environments.
- In 2014, the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology published findings related to Environmental Toxins and Parkinson’s Disease. The review reported five case-control studies that revealed a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease in individuals who had experienced exposure to paraquat. Pesticide applicators who had applied paraquat suffered twice the risk of Parkinson’s disease than the general population.
- In 2016, the EPA announced it would be re-evaluating paraquat, including the potential link to Parkinson’s disease.
- In 2017, a study found an association between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease, especially among individuals with certain genetic characteristics. The study further concluded that paraquat exposure damaged DNA and impaired mitochondrial respiration.
Despite its link to Parkinson’s disease, agrochemical companies continue to sell paraquat and still aren’t warning consumers about the risks from long-term exposure to the herbicide. Meanwhile, it can take years for paraquat exposure to develop into a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.
With more people becoming aware of the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, lawsuits have been mounting against the companies that manufacture the herbicide, including Syngenta, Growmark, and Chevron. The lawsuits allege these companies failed to adequately research the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease and warn consumers and misrepresented the safety of paraquat for decades.
Facing a growing number of lawsuits filed across the country, the litigation was consolidated and transferred to Judge Nancy Rosenstengel in federal court in Illinois. As of November 2021, more than 400 lawsuits are pending before Judge Rosenstengel. This number is expected to grow to thousands.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one used or were exposed to Paraquat and were subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may qualify to file a Paraquat lawsuit. You can discuss your case with us during a free consultation and receive the legal advice you need to make an informed decision about what to do next. Let us fight for you to hold the manufacturers accountable for your injuries and recover the compensation you deserve. Our firm is experienced in handling toxic exposure cases and we welcome any questions you may have. Call us now at (888) 213-0761 for a free consultation.