Currently, almost 100 paraquat lawsuits have been filed in various courts across the country. These suits accuse Syngenta, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, and Growmark Inc. of failing to act on knowledge that exposure to their dangerous pesticide paraquat has been associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Recent studies have linked long-term paraquat exposure to a heightened risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. These studies propose that paraquat increases Parkinson’s disease risk by creating oxidative stress that damages and kills neurons that produce dopamine.
A 2009 study 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. In this study, paraquat was identified as posing a significant health concern.
These studies come as the use of paraquat in the U.S. grows alarmingly. In the last ten years the estimated amount has tripled from slightly under 5 million pounds to an estimated 15 million pounds of paraquat annually. This increase has been triggered in part by its use on superweeds that have developed resistance to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly sold as Bayer’s Roundup. Commercialized farming and monocropping, which are reliant on the heavy use of weed-control substances, have driven the use of dangerous herbicides like paraquat to previously unthinkable levels.
How dangerous is paraquat ? According to the Pesticide Action Network, Paraquat is more poisonous than glyphosate and is 28 times more acutely toxic. Because of that toxicity paraquat has been banned or phased out in the European Union, Brazil, and China. However, in the United States paraquat is more popular than ever and over 10 million pounds are being added to our ecosystems annually, and in October 2020 the EPA again reapproved paraquat for restricted use in the United States.
This wide use of paraquat leads us to believe that there are thousands of potential claimants who have been harmed by this dangerous weed killer. Paraquat has been used in commercial farming and agriculture in the U.S. for decades. Agricultural workers are often exposed to it on the job, while others live near farms that deploy this toxic weed killer. Untold numbers of people have been exposed to this toxic herbicide and have developed Parkinson’s disease or are at risk for doing so.
At Saunders & Walker, we have a long history of representing consumers harmed by dangerous and defective products. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and has been exposed to paraquat, you might be eligible to collect financial compensation. Please contact us at 1-800-748-7115 for a free consultation with a paraquat lawyer and to learn more about case eligibility.
Paraquat (also called paraquat dichloride and methyl viologen) is an organic compound, in liquid form, that can be used as a non-selective, fast-acting contact herbicide. It is capable of killing a broad spectrum of weeds and grasses. Upon contact, paraquat quickly disrupts the normal photosynthesis processes of a plant, resulting in wilting and death. Paraquat is one of several herbicides that have been used in the agricultural sector at one time or another to control weed and grass growth; others include glyphosate and diquat.
Although paraquat is a highly effective herbicide, there is mounting evidence of its toxicity to human beings.
Paraquat was first synthesized in the 1880s, but it wouldn’t be used as a commercial herbicide until 1962. That’s when UK-based Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) began selling paraquat under the trade name Gramoxone. It soon became apparent that paraquat worked particularly well as a herbicide.
One important advantage of paraquat is that it can be deployed successfully even on plants that are resistant to other herbicides, such as glyphosate. It also leaves behind little residue.
As a result, paraquat soon became frequently used in a wide range of applications around the world, including non-agricultural settings. In North America, the herbicide was often called upon to kill marijuana plants.
At the same time, however, evidence was accumulating against paraquat. It became clear that paraquat could be very hazardous to human beings in various ways. Governments around the world gradually took steps to ban paraquat or limit its use. In 2007, the European Union (EU) banned paraquat across all its member states.
In 2013, the California Poison Control System in conjunction with the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) launched an investigation in the San Joaquin Valley that uncovered no fewer than 50 deaths traceable to paraquat. At least twelve of these fatalities stemmed from the accidental ingestion of paraquat that had been stored in a drinking container.
There is no antidote that can counteract the effects of ingesting paraquat. Even a tiny sip can be deadly. Survivors of paraquat ingestion can sustain life-altering health complications, as this herbicide often produces toxic reactions in multiple organs.
Although ingesting paraquat is the most lethal form of contact with this substance, it can harm human health in other ways as well. Exposure to the skin can lead to poisoning, especially when contact is prolonged or reaches a wound. In addition, inhaling paraquat may lead to injury of the lungs. Paraquat’s harmfulness to human beings is not in doubt.
Paraquat remains approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in the United States. However, access to paraquat is restricted to licensed professionals, and there are no off-the-shelf retail products that contain it. The form of paraquat available in the U.S. is marked by a distinctive blue dye and emits a powerful odor to discourage accidental ingestion. But even with these safeguards in place, paraquat is still a danger to persons who work or live in areas where this powerful herbicide is in use.
In light of growing evidence linking paraquat exposure to a substantially greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and other health disorders, many experts on the subject have urged the EPA to reconsider its approval of this substance as a restricted use pesticide (RUP) and impose a total ban. Nevertheless, it seems that any such official action against paraquat is unlikely for the foreseeable future.
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders in the world, afflicting over six million people around the globe. It is named after James Parkinson, the doctor who first identified it in 1817. Affecting the central nervous system, the disease is characterized by gradual deterioration of the body’s motor control. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but various medications are available that can reduce its symptoms.
Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include the following:
Tremors – Very frequently the first observable symptom of Parkinson’s. Patients often report experiencing tremors in one hand, and eventually the other in the later stages of the disease. Hand tremors often take the form of the repeated involuntary touching together of the index finger and thumb in a circular motion.
Bradykinesia – Essentially an overall “slowness” in bodily movements. Sufferers have difficulty moving from one place to another or performing simple household tasks (such as brushing their teeth).
Rigidity – Can be apparent in multiple areas of the body: arms, legs, trunk, and/or neck. Sufferers often experience jerky movements as they attempt to overcome muscular stiffness.
Postural instability – An inability to remain properly balanced while standing or walking, which can lead to potentially dangerous falls. It often develops in the later stages of the disease.
Apart from the above, Parkinson’s patients often report mood and cognitive disorders. They have a greatly increased risk of developing dementia—as much as six times that of a non-Parkinson’s sufferer.
Parkinson’s disease is classified as an idiopathic disorder—that is, it has no identifiable cause. Even so, it is widely believed in the medical community that both genetic and environmental factors play their part in the development of this debilitating disease. Among the triggers frequently cited as likely contributing to the onset of Parkinson’s are pesticides and similar environmental toxins. Paraquat is one of the toxins that have been linked to Parkinson’s in multiple scientific studies.
If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and has been exposed to this hazardous herbicide, you should consider contacting an experienced paraquat attorney to sort through your legal options. Call Saunders & Walker at 1-800-748-7115 for your free consultation.