Paraquat linked to increased rates of Parkinson’s disease
Paraquat dichloride (a.k.a. “paraquat”) is the most common brand of herbicide in the United States. Also referred to as Gramoxone, Paraquat is a chemical pesticide used to kill leaves that it comes into contact with. Applied as a spray, it has been used to clear fields before planting in United States commercial farming and agriculture since the 1960s. Applicators typically spray it on commercial crops such as corn, soy and cotton.
Paraquat is extremely toxic and harmful to humans. Ingesting as little as one sip of paraquat can kill you. Manufacturers mix paraquat with blue dye so that it is not confused with a food product. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) classifies paraquat as a restricted use pesticide, meaning only certified pesticide applicators can use it. To be a certified pesticide applicator, a person must take an EPA-approved training and examination, and continue to be regulated by the state where they acquire and apply paraquat. Once certified, the individual becomes a “commercially licensed applicator.” Unfortunately, commercially licensed applicators of paraquat are “the most at risk for exposure.”
Exposure can incur by ingestion, inhalation, and skin exposure. Safety measures exist to prevent accidental ingestion, direct inhalation, and/or exposure while mixing and applying. Unfortunately, the commercially licensed applicators and those who work with them (including groundskeepers, farmers, growers, pickers, and other agricultural workers), are exposed to paraquat residue on their clothes, skin, and hair. They are also exposed to mist drift when the wind changes while they are applying the pesticide.
Multiple scientific studies have linked repeated exposure to paraquat in low doses to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease effects the human neurological system. Individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease often experience reduced control over their fine motor skills. As a result, tremors, loss of balance and coordination, slower movement, and rigid limbs are all associated with this devastating disease. Unlike other neurodegenerative diseases, the genetic cause of Parkinson’s is not completely clear and thought to be low. However, the link between Parkinson’s and exposure to pesticides such as Paraquat has been demonstrated through numerous scientific studies. “People who used [paraquat] developed Parkinson’s disease approximately 2.5 times more often than non-users.”
Commercially licensed applicators and other agricultural workers exposed to smaller amounts of the chemical over a long period may not manifest symptoms for years. Many commercially licensed applicators and other agricultural workers who have been exposed to Paraquat and later developed Parkinson’s disease are filing lawsuits against the manufacturers. If you or a loved one was exposed to paraquat and developed Parkinson’s disease, you should seek legal advice on your rights.
Believe you were affected? Contact our Paraquat attorneys.