Iowa Farmer Files Class Action Lawsuit Over Paraquat’s Link to Parkinson’s Disease

A class action lawsuit was filed earlier this month by an Iowa farmer seeking compensation on behalf of himself and thousands of farmers and agricultural workers across the United States who may now face an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease as a result of their exposure to the toxic herbicide Paraquat. If you or someone you love has been exposed to Paraquat while mixing, loading, or applying the herbicide, from cleaning Paraquat equipment, or even as a result of spray drift from nearby fields or farms where Paraquat was sprayed, call us today to find out how we can help. Your Paraquat exposure may have put you at risk for Parkinson’s disease, a severe disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, and we believe that the companies responsible for manufacturing and marketing Paraquat should be held accountable for the toxic effects of the herbicide.

Link Between Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease

Paraquat is a synthetic herbicide that has been widely used in farming and agriculture operations throughout the U.S. since the 1960s, primary for weed and grass control. Today, farmers across the country spray more than eight million pounds of Paraquat on thousands of acres of cropland each year, and in doing so, may be putting themselves and others at risk for Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by stiffness, shaking, slowed movement, and difficulty with balance, walking, and coordination. It can also cause sleep problems, depression, mental and behavioral changes, and memory issues. In most people with Parkinson’s disease, these symptoms begin gradually and worsen over time, as nerve cells in the brain break down or die. The cause of Parkinson’s disease in not known, but many experts now believe that the disorder stems from a combination of genetic factors and environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins.

Paraquat is Highly Poisonous

Paraquat is known to be highly toxic, and ingesting even a small amount of the herbicide can have fatal consequences. Between 1990 and 2014, there were more than 200 reports of harmful Paraquat exposure in the U.S., including 27 deaths. Due to its known toxicity, Paraquat has been banned across much of the world, including in China and the European Union, yet it is still widely used in commercial and private applications in the U.S. In fact, not only has Paraquat not been banned in the U.S., use of the herbicide has actually climbed nearly 200% since 2009, an increase that has been attributed to the emergence of weeds that have developed a resistance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer.

“It only takes a teaspoon of paraquat to kill a person, so it’s clear eight million pounds of this stuff is doing extreme harm to our health and the environment,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a 2019 press release commenting on an EPA review of Paraquat that questioned the herbicide’s strong links to Parkinson’s disease. “A pesticide this toxic has no place near our food or the people who help to grow and harvest it. The EPA should follow the lead of nearly every other major agricultural country in the world and ban this dangerous stuff for good.”

Paraquat Lawsuits Filed Over Parkinson’s Risk

Considering Paraquat’s known toxicity, use of the herbicide in the U.S. is restricted to certified applicators, including licensed commercial or private applicators. However, research shows that farmers, farm workers, and agricultural workers who regularly spray, mix, load or clean Paraquat equipment may be at risk for toxic Paraquat exposure, as well as others exposed to the herbicide as a result of spray drift or routine contact with crops that were sprayed with Paraquat. In this new Paraquat class action lawsuit, filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, plaintiff Doug Holliday alleges that he was unaware of the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, which has been reported with increasing frequency among famers and agricultural workers routinely exposed to the herbicide. Although Holliday has not yet been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he alleges that his exposure to Paraquat as a farmer may increase his risk of developing the devastating neurological condition in the future.

Syngenta Crop Protection LLC, Syngenta AG, and Chevron USA are named as defendants in the Paraquat class action lawsuit, which seeks to recover compensatory damages and future medical monitoring costs for Holliday and the thousands of other farmers who were unknowingly exposed to a Parkinson’s disease risk as a result of using Paraquat. Holliday alleges in his lawsuit that the defendants manufactured, marketed, distributed, and sold Paraquat in the U.S. and in Iowa without properly testing the herbicide or warning about its possible health risks. “For decades, Defendants knew or should have known that Paraquat is toxic to humans and causes Parkinson’s Disease, a degenerative, debilitating neuromuscular disorder for which there is no cure,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants did not adequately warn Plaintiff or Paraquat consumers that their use of and exposure to Paraquat significantly increased their risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease.”