A growing number of lawsuits filed in the federal court system allege that exposure to Paraquat, a controversial weed killer that has been sprayed on farms, fields, and orchards across the United States for decades, causes Parkinson’s disease, a progressive and incurable disorder that attacks nerve cells in the brain. To date, there are nearly 300 Paraquat lawsuits pending in the federal court system, where the claims have been centralized before Nancy J. Rosenstengel for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). If you or someone you know was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease following exposure to Paraquat as a commercial agricultural worker or as a result of herbicide drift, contact us today to find out if you are eligible to file a Paraquat lawsuit for compensation.
Paraquat was first introduced in the U.S. in the 1960s, and the powerful weed killer is now widely used in commercial agricultural settings as an alternative to glyphosate and Roundup. Paraquat is used to control weeds and grasses on farms, in fields and orchards, and in other commercial settings, and the way it works is by creating oxidative stress, which alters cell chemistry and ultimately leads to the degeneration and death of plant cells. Although Paraquat has been marketed as safe for commercial use by licensed applicators, scientific evidence suggests that oxidative stress can also cause cell and tissue damage in humans, which is how Paraquat is believed to cause Parkinson’s disease.
Due to its extreme toxicity, Paraquat has been banned across much of the world, but the weed killer remains available for commercial use in the U.S. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reauthorized Paraquat during a registration review that takes place every 15 years. In an effort to protect individuals from harmful exposure to Paraquat, the EPA has implemented certain mitigation measures, including restricting Paraquat use to commercial applicators who complete a special training program on Paraquat safety. What many commercial applicators don’t know, however, is that they may be at risk for Parkinson’s disease from long-term Paraquat exposure even if they use Paraquat as directed.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease that occurs when the cells in the brain that produce dopamine die. Although the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, research links the disease to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. “Certain chemicals, such as nicotine and caffeine, have been found to protect dopaminergic neurons,” writes the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council, a group led by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, in a letter sent to the EPA in July 2017, “and others, such as paraquat, increase production of certain oxygen derivatives that may harm cellular structures and cause the disease.” Recent studies have pointed out that such exposure, when combined with genetic disposition, makes the risk of Parkinson’s disease even greater.
Although commercial applicators face the greatest risk of Parkinson’s disease from Paraquat exposure, direct exposure through Paraquat application is not the only way people can be exposed to the toxic herbicide. In its letter to the EPA, the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council writes, “several epidemiologic studies have associated Parkinson’s disease with rural living, well water exposure and farming. Studies also indicate that exposure to paraquat, either directly or through air or clothing-borne herbicide drift, markedly increases risk of developing Parkinson’s.” Therefore, the Council writes, “Restricting the use of the chemical to those with a license is therefore insufficient to protect all people.”
More and more Paraquat lawsuits accuse Syngenta and other manufacturers of failing to provide adequate warnings about the potential link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease. All Paraquat claims filed in the federal court system have been centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, and the first Paraquat trials are expected to begin late next year. As of September 15, 2021, there are currently 289 Paraquat lawsuits pending in the federal MDL, and attorneys across the country continue to investigate claims on behalf of former users who are just now learning about the potential link between the weed killer and their Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. If you or someone you love was exposed to Paraquat and subsequently developed Parkinson’s disease, do not hesitate to speak to an experienced Paraquat injury attorney about your legal options.