Paraquat Exposure Linked to Parkinson's Disease
If you or a loved one were exposed to the herbicide paraquat and subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a paraquat lawsuit might be an option.
Paraquat dichloride, commonly known as paraquat, is a chemical compound used widely as an herbicide in the United States. It is a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) and can only be legally purchased and used by licensed applicators. Some products containing paraquat dichloride include Gramoxone®, Helmquat®, Firestorm®, and Parazone®. Due to its extreme toxicity and health risks, paraquat is banned in many countries around the world. Yet despite these risks, bans, and growing evidence linking paraquat dichloride poisoning to Parkinson’s disease, it continues to see heavy use in the United States.
Paraquat gained popularity as an herbicide during the 1960s, and was first manufactured for commercial use in the United States in 1962. The herbicide became even more prominent in the late 1970s, when the Mexican government used it to destroy marijuana fields. Paraquat is among the top herbicides in use today, owing in large part to the resistance of plants to other herbicides.
While Monsanto’s Roundup has been the longtime herbicide of choice for the majority of American farmers, its use has been on the decline. This is mainly because pests and weeds have developed a resistance to it, but also because of the increasing number of lawsuits regarding its toxicity and side effects. As a result, farmers have been choosing other herbicides to use on their farms, including paraquat dichloride.
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Paraquat is sold in liquid form and is sprayed onto crops using a variety of methods. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paraquat dichloride products are the most common restricted-use herbicides in the United States. The amount of paraquat used on crop fields has multiplied almost four times over the past decade, with soybean fields being a major recipient.
Globally, paraquat is banned in 32 countries, including Switzerland, where the producer Syngenta is located. Despite one of Syngenta’s biggest factories running in Northern England, paraquat remains banned in England and the European Union. China also makes Paraquat for export. In spite of the known health risks and the rise of paraquat lawsuits, the United States remains a major buyer of paraquat dichloride products.
While there are a number of ways someone can be exposed to paraquat, including inhalation and skin contact, paraquat exposure often happens when a person consumes foods or drinks that have been contaminated by the chemical. Industry and farmworkers who are frequently exposed to the chemical are especially vulnerable to paraquat side effects.
Long-term skin exposure to a high concentration of Paraquat could also lead to contamination by the deadly compound. The risk is higher when the person being exposed to the chemical has some broken skin from a cut or a wound.
The results of paraquat poisoning are often deadly. A lethal dose of paraquat for an average person is approximately 2.5 grams. It is even more toxic when inhaled than when ingested. Because it is lethal in very small doses, paraquat dichloride has been used in multiple suicides, especially in places where chemical regulations are lax.
Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease
Research has found a link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. The National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a study that included 80,000 farmworkers in the United States. The study, the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME), revealed that that the workers had an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in comparison to the rest of the population. Another study done in 2012 showed that individuals with a specific genetic variation who also used or were exposed to paraquat were eleven times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. These findings continue to be backed by ongoing research.
Despite these alarming health risks, manufacturers continue to produce paraquat dichloride for export in the United States, even when its use has been banned in the countries of manufacture.
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Parkinson’s symptoms may include:
- Tremors or shaking, which often begins in your hands or fingers. Your hand may show tremor when at rest. Your forefinger and thumb might rub back in forth in what has been dubbed pill-rolling tremor.
- Muscle stiffness or rigidity in any part of your body. These can limit your range of motion and sometimes be painful.
- Handwriting changes. Your writing might become smaller and more hesitant.
- Slowed movement, known as bradykinesia. Parkinson’s disease will slow your movement over time, causing difficulty walking and doing simple tasks.
- Posture and balance issues. You might notice that your posture has become stooped.
- Automatic movement problems, such as the decreased ability to blink or smile.
- Speech changes. Your speech might become slurred, softer, or more monotone. You might hesitate before speaking.
If you have been exposed to paraquat and have these symptoms, see your doctor immediately and explain the link between paraquat dichloride poisoning and Parkinson’s disease. If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s after being exposed to paraquat products, a paraquat lawsuit may be in your best interest.
Manufacturers of paraquat dichloride products, although aware of the severe health risks and dangers associated with paraquat, have continued to make it available without warning the public of the dangers.
Paraquat lawsuits are being filed on behalf of those who were exposed to paraquat products and subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. If you believe paraquat is responsible for your or a loved one suffering Parkinson’s disease, we can help answer your questions. If you choose to pursue a paraquat lawsuit, we can assist you through the legal process.