Research has shown that individuals exposed to the toxic pesticide paraquat may have a significantly increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a progressive central nervous system disorder that causes stiffness, tremors, shaking, and problems with balance and coordination. Those at the greatest risk for potentially harmful paraquat exposure include farmers and farm workers, herbicide applicators, chemical mixers, tank fillers, and even individuals living near farms where paraquat is sprayed. More than 30 countries have banned paraquat due in large part to human health concerns, yet the pesticide is still in use in the United States.

Paraquat Lawsuit Information

A growing body of evidence has raised awareness about the potential health risks of paraquat exposure, not only among licensed applicators and farm and agricultural workers who regularly mix, handle and apply paraquat, but also among people living in rural areas where the pesticide is routinely sprayed, many of whom had no prior knowledge of the pesticide’s presence in the environment and its potential health impact. Attorneys are now reviewing and filing cases on behalf of farmers, agricultural workers and others exposed to paraquat, either directly due to occupational exposure or indirectly as a result of paraquat spraying near their homes.

One of the first paraquat lawsuits was filed in October 2017 against paraquat makers Syngenta and Growmark (and later, Chevron Chemical), on behalf of farmers and agricultural workers who were exposed to paraquat and subsequently developed Parkinson’s disease. More recently, a paraquat lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Illinois in February 2021 by a man who alleges that he developed Parkinson’s disease after working on his family’s farm for more than 40 years, during which time he was regularly in or near fields where paraquat had been sprayed. Furthermore, the plaintiff claims that for at least ten of those years, he regularly mixed, loaded and applied the toxic pesticide to the fields of his family’s farm.

Paraquat Brand Names

• Paraquat
• Blanco
• Bonfire Herbicide
• Devour
• Firestorm
• Gramoxone
• Helmquat
• Para-Shot
• Parazone
• Quik-Quat

“Paraquat is incredibly toxic to humans. A lethal dose for the average person is about 2.5 grams.”

What is Paraquat?

Paraquat dichloride (“paraquat”) is a chemical weed and grass killer commonly used in commercial crop operations as an alternative to Roundup (glyphosate), a broad-spectrum weed killer that has been tied to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other potentially life-threatening side effects in users. Paraquat, which has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, has been on the market since 1962 and remains one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, despite recent restrictions on its use.

Due in large part to the chemical’s high toxicity, many countries have banned paraquat and its use in the U.S. is restricted to certified applicators (licensed commercial or private applicators) who successfully complete training on “How to Safely Use and Handle Paraquat-Containing Pesticides.” However, that does not mean that only those who apply paraquat face a potential health threat, though commercial use may pose the greatest risk. Paraquat has also been associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease among individuals living in rural areas nearby farms where the herbicide is sprayed.

Allegations Raised in Paraquat Lawsuits

Lawsuits brought against the makers of paraquat are expected to raise the following legal claims:

• Failure to adequately research the potential link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease;
• Failure to properly warn consumers about the possibility of paraquat exposure significantly increasing a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease;
• Failure to ensure that workers exposed to paraquat on the job received suitable protection against the possible side effects of the pesticide;
• Failure to warn residents living near farms where paraquat is sprayed about the health effects exposure to the pesticide could cause;
• Negligent disregard of potential paraquat health risks; and
• Misrepresentation of Paraquat’s safety.

Link Between Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease

One of the first indications of the potential neurological effects of paraquat exposure came in the 1980s, when an experiment revealed that MPTP, a heroin contaminant that shares a similar chemical structure to paraquat, destroys dopamine neurons – the same neurons that are damaged in Parkinson’s patients. Additional research studies conducted over the past several decades have established an even stronger association between paraquat exposure and the development of Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that affects 10 million people worldwide.

In one study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2009, researchers found that exposure to paraquat and a fungicide called maneb sprayed within 500 meters of a person’s home increased their risk of Parkinson’s disease by as much as 75%. Another study published in 2011 suggested that farmers who use paraquat are two-and-a-half times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Other research has linked paraquat exposure during a person’s teen and young adult years to an increased Parkinson’s risk landing somewhere between 200% and 600%.

Despite these increasingly alarming findings, many of which date back a decade or more, it wasn’t until 2016 that the EPA announced that it would conduct a review of the potential health risks of paraquat exposure, including its possible link to Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, the agency has until October 2022 to make a decision about the use of paraquat moving forward, which means the potentially harmful herbicide will continue to be used in the meantime.

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