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Despite its toxicity, Paraquat is one of the most commonly used herbicides across the globe. Even in the United States, the dangerous chemical is still available for restricted use by those with commercial licenses. Paraquat exposure has been linked to an increased risk of several illnesses including Parkinson’s disease and other adverse health conditions.
At Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC, we are currently accepting cases related to Paraquat exposure nationwide. Our attorneys will investigate Paraquat injury claims, helping to determine whether you have a valid case. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or another illness after Paraquat exposure, contact our office at (888) 367-7160 to schedule a free consultation.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), paraquat dichloride (paraquat) is a “widely used” herbicide or plant killer. It is a toxic chemical that is primarily used for weed control. Paraquat has been used for commercial purposes since the early 1960s.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated all paraquat products as “Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs)” meaning that only trained certified applicators can use the product. There is no non-commercial or homeowner use of paraquat-containing products. Additionally, none of the products are “registered for application in residential areas.”
As explained by the EPA, paraquat dichloride is highly toxic. Even one small sip of the substance can prove fatal. There is no antidote for paraquat poisoning. It is believed that the accidental ingestion of the herbicide results in 1-2 deaths per year.
Studies show that exposure to the substance may lead to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and other health conditions. The high level of toxicity also caused the EPA to issue mitigation measures to help meet federal safety standards.
The substance is banned in dozens of countries but is still used in the United States on a wide variety of crops. The potentially deadly toxin is sprayed on food allowing it to be ingested, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against paraquat manufacturer Syngenta AG alleging the product (Gramoxone) is dangerous and defective.
Almost anyone is at risk of exposure due to the widespread use of the herbicide on crops across the country, however, licensed applicators are more likely to experience adverse effects due to their close proximity to the toxin.
A 2019 Human Health Risk Assessment performed by the EPA found that workers who mixed, loaded, and applied the substance were at a greater risk for harm. Additionally, it identified workers who entered treated fields after the herbicide was sprayed and bystanders affected by spray drift as those that may be at risk.
In 2011 an Agricultural Health Study (AHS) found a link between the use of a group of pesticides and the development of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Parkinson’s disease is a serious brain disorder that can affect a person’s movement and generally worsens over time.
Research indicates that pesticides such as paraquat cause oxidative stress which has long been considered a “pathophysiologic mechanism underlying Parkinson’s Disease.” The widespread use of the herbicide makes these findings particularly concerning.
The study concludes that “paraquat use plays a role in human PD.” The greatest risk, however, continues to be to those with cumulative exposure.
Symptoms related to paraquat poisoning range in severity depending on the length and route of the exposure. Paraquat ingestion is by far the most serious type of exposure and can cause chemical reactions throughout the body.
Ingestion of even a small amount of paraquat may lead to:
Exposure to paraquat through other routes such as absorption or inhalation can still cause serious, adverse health consequences including esophageal strictures and the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Paraquat dichloride is a chemical found in many common herbicides. It is sold in the United States and abroad.
Common brand names containing paraquat dichloride include:
It is important to note that paraquat is in dozens of commonly-used herbicides. While it has been restricted to commercial use it is still widely available.
1961: Paraquat is first produced in the United States for commercial purposes. Gramoxone which is still used today was manufactured only a short time later.
1964: Paraquat first registered with the EPA.
1970s and 1980s: Concerns over the widespread use of the toxic herbicide grow across the globe, but few countries banned the substance with the exception of Switzerland, Kuwait, Finland, and Sweden.
1990s: Several countries including Austria, Denmark, and Slovenia ban the use of paraquat. Others restrict the use of the herbicide to commercial purposes. During this time, the first studies are conducted showing the potential link between the chemical and the development of Parkinson’s disease.
1997: Re-registration with EPA completed.
2007: The European Union bans the use of paraquat.
2011: Definitive AHS study published linking paraquat exposure to an increased risk of PD. Registration review for paraquat initiated by the EPA.
2016: EPA issues new packaging requirements and other mitigation measures for the herbicide.
2019: Over 100-page human health risk assessment and ecological risk assessment completed by the EPA. The human health risk assessment found potential risks to workers and handlers exposed to paraquat. The ecological risk assessment found a potential risk to wildlife including mammals, birds, and algae.
October 2020: Interim Review Decision draft released by the EPA. A final decision was released in July 2021 after reviewing public comments. New protections were suggested to reduce exposure to the dangerous herbicide.
Paraquat is currently banned in 32 countries but is still used throughout the United States. Litigation continues against manufacturers of paraquat-based products. In 2021, hundreds of paraquat lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). To date, there are thousands of cases filed against paraquat makers.
Were you or a loved one exposed to paraquat? You might be entitled to compensation if you suffered harm or were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after paraquat exposure. Contact our office at (888) 367-7160 to schedule a free consultation.