Many farmers and families who live in farming communities are considering joining or filing a Paraquat lawsuit, based on Paraquat poisoning, injuries, and health risks that are associated with this toxic chemical herbicide. While China, Brazil, and many EU countries have banned this substance, it is still legal to use in the United States.1
What Is Paraquat?
Paraquat dichloride hydrate is a chemical used as an herbicide by large farms as part of no-till practices. It is gaining in popularity as more weeds become resistant to the glyphosate-based RoundUp by Monsanto. Millions of pounds of Paraquat are used each year on farms in America, some of which may contaminate the air, ground, or water and affect nearby communities.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified paraquat products as restricted use, which allows them to be applied only by licensed applicators. Because Paraquat is extremely poisonous, in the United States it is colored blue, has a warning odor added, and includes a vomiting agent to reduce the chance of accidental ingestion.2
Where Might You be Exposed to Paraquat?
Because of its status as a restricted use herbicide, you should not find Paraquat in your garden shed or at the farm supply store. Paraquat is sold directly to large agricultural buyers under brand names like Gramoxone and Ortho Paraquat. It is labeled and marketed as more effective than glyphosate herbicides and able to combat “superweeds.”
Paraquat might be sprayed where you work or live, especially in or around:
- Commercial farmland
- Large estates
- Orchards and plantations
- Cotton fields, where it is used for desiccation
- Small farms or homesteads
- New construction areas
- Along roadsides or no-till fields
- Contaminated water sources
Crops that are commonly treated with Paraquat include:
- sweet potatoes
Health Risks Associated with Paraquat
Serious health risks have come to light as exposure to Paraquat becomes more common. Not only is poisoning a serious health risk for those who work with the chemical herbicide, but lower levels of exposure are also associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
The Paraquat Link to Parkinson’s Disease
The herbicide Paraquat has been shown in numerous studies to be linked to Parkinson’s disease. While some sources cite an increased risk of 200-600%, a specific study in 2011 found that people exposed to Paraquat developed Parkinson’s disease at a rate of 2.5 times that of the general population. This equates to a heightened risk of 250% for those who came into contact with this toxic herbicide.1,3 In another study it was found that any level of exposure to Paraquat within 1600 feet of a home raised the risk of developing Parkinson’s by 75%.4
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, which is a serious disorder of the central nervous system. While there may be a genetic cause for about 10% of Parkinson’s patients, it is believed that environmental exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals may be the leading cause of this debilitating disease. In fact, researchers use Paraquat specifically to induce Parkinson’s in mice in order to study new treatments for the disease.1
Paraquat Poisoning Symptoms
A single sip of Paraquat, or 2.5 grams, is a lethal dose of this poison. Anyone who uses or works close to Paraquat needs to be extremely careful about breathing, ingesting the substance, or allowing it to remain on their skin. There is no known antidote for Paraquat poisoning.
Most at risk are those who might:2
- Inhale or ingest Paraquat
- Come into contact with plants that have been sprayed
- Mix, load, or apply the substance
- Get paraquat on their skin or clothing
- Live or work in areas where Paraquat is sprayed
Symptoms of paraquat poisoning include:2
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness or coma
- Mental confusion
- Elevated heart rate, low blood pressure
- Rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
- Weakness and muscle fatigue
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Painful swelling of the mouth, throat, or airways
- Seizures, confusion, or tremors
Over the next days or weeks, Paraquat poisoning then leads to serious health effects, including:2
- Acute kidney failure
- Heart failure or heart attack
- Liver failure
- Lung damage and scarring
- Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of neurons and neurotransmitters and is classified as a neurodegenerative brain disorder. Symptoms develop over a long period of time and include both movement problems and other indicators. Along with the established link to Parkinson’s, exposure to Paraquat is also associated with other nervous system disorders including:
- Atypical Parkinson’s
- Multiple System Atrophy
- Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Movement or Motor Related Symptoms of Parkinson’s
Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease often involve difficulties in movement, which might include:5
- Postural instability
- Impaired balance
- Stiff or rigid limbs
- Resting tremors or shaking
- Dystonia, which is a painful distorted posture
- Difficulty walking or uneven gait
- Difficulty speaking
- Slow voluntary movement and reflexes (Bradykinesia)
- Resistance to passive movement
Other Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Other signs of Parkinson’s that are not related to movement are also related to the loss of neurons and neurotransmitters, but affect the body differently. These might include:5
- Cognitive impairment
- General apathy, anxiety, or depression
- Constipation, stomach problems
- Weight loss
- Other sleep or behavioral disorders
- Problems with the sense of smell
- Pain and fatigue
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Urinary problems
- Vision issues
- Sexual issues
- Personality changes
- Excessive sweating
What Actions Has the EPA Taken on Paraquat?
Once the EPA has reviewed and registered a herbicide for use, it is not normally reviewed again for 15 years. However, in July 2021, the EPA released an interim decision to review the registration. This has resulted in new recommendations in an attempt to mitigate the risk of exposure and damage to the environment. Based on these requirements:6
- Paraquat should never be stored in or around residential buildings.
- It must never be used in home gardens, recreational parks, golf courses, playgrounds, or schools.
- Aerial applications are limited to a maximum of 350 acres per applicator, per 24-hour period.
- A residential area drift buffer is required to limit spray drifting into residential areas.
- Human flaggers may not be used to guide aerial applications.
- Paraquat may not be applied using pressurized handguns and backpack sprayers.
- Farm equipment entering a treated area of more than 80 acres within 24 hours must have an enclosed cab.
- Enclosed cabs and PF10 respirators are required to enter a treated area of less than 90 acres within 24 hours of application.
- A 48-hour restricted entry interval is required for all crops except cotton.
- When applied for cotton desiccation a 7-day restricted entry interval is required.
- Labeling must be updated to include spray drift management and reflect the current warnings related to usage and toxicity.
Should You File a Paraquat Lawsuit?
There are many Paraquat lawsuits already in progress, filed against companies, corporate farms, and individuals. If you or someone you love was exposed to Paraquat and developed serious health problems including Parkinson’s disease, you may be eligible for compensation.
You can speak to an experienced Paraquat attorney about your case, usually at no cost to you. Your reasons for filing Paraquat litigation may be unique to your situation, but most often the victims of exposure are seeking compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- The costs of ongoing care and treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a loved one
- Punitive damages
Class Actions and Paraquat Settlements
Law firms across the country are filing class action lawsuits that cover a group of injured individuals who all were exposed from the same source of Paraquat or, in some cases, against the manufacturer of the chemical in cases where they knew or should have known that exposure would cause serious harm.
Whether you join a group action or file an individual personal injury lawsuit for Paraquat exposure or injury, the plaintiff may make a settlement offer to cover your claim. In the case of a settlement, your Paraquat lawyer can advise you if it is enough to fully compensate you or your family for your injuries.
Settlements allow both parties to avoid going to court. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will represent your interests in a court battle if necessary. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys has years of experience in winning cases like these, caused by dangerous products like Paraquat.
Find Out More About Your Legal Options
Paraquat has been used heavily in the United States, with as many as 10 million pounds of this toxic chemical being added to our environment each year. High levels of use mean that many more people are being exposed, possibly with life changing results. At Saunders & Walker, P.A., we are working with hundreds of such cases and would like to hear from you if you have been injured from Paraquat exposure.
If you have received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, we know that it is likely that exposure to a chemical like Paraquat might be to blame. We can help you track your exposure and prepare a case that may result in compensation for yourself and your family. While exposure or poisoning by Paraquat is a tragedy that should be avoided, most clients have been injured by no fault of their own.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation and more information about your legal options after exposure to Paraquat. We are standing by to assist you in this important decision and find access to the financial compensation you and your family may desperately need at this time.