Mounting evidence suggests that there is a link between widely-used, toxic herbicide paraquat and a wide range of conditions including Parkinson’s disease. Although manufacturers of the weed killer were allegedly aware of the health risks, they failed to warn users. As a result, injury and wrongful death lawsuits continue to arise.
What Is Paraquat?
Paraquat is a toxic herbicide that is widely used for weed and grass control in the United States. It is extensively used by farmers and other agricultural workers primarily to control weed, plant, and grass growth between desired crops. Paraquat was sold under a variety of trade names, including but not limited to:
Applying paraquat eliminates time-consuming tilling. The herbicide obliterates everything in its path. Unfortunately, vegetation isn’t the only thing paraquat is exterminating. The human death toll is approaching 1,000.
How Does Paraquat Poisoning Occur?
Paraquat poisoning can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin exposure. Exposure often leads to kidney failure, metabolic acidosis, and respiratory distress. Experts report that the chemical is so toxic that a single sip can cause multi-organ failure and death within hours or days. There is currently no known antidote. Ingestion of paraquat is fatal in 60-80% of cases.
Even more alarming, it isn’t just agricultural workers who may be exposed to this deadly herbicide. People who live within 1,600 feet of where paraquat is used are also at risk. Family members who come in frequent contact with clothing, materials in vehicles, and furniture touched by the clothing of exposed workers may also suffer serious side effects.
Because of its high risk of human toxicity, paraquat products are only available for use by commercially licensed users. An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved training program must be completed before users can legally mix, load, or apply paraquat.
How Is Paraquat Linked to Parkinson’s Disease?
According to neuroscientist Todd Sherer at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and a number of other experts, the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease has increased dramatically with the use of pesticides in recent years. Various studies, in fact, highlight an association between paraquat specifically and Parkinson’s disease. Experts assert that even low-level exposure to the herbicide can disrupt cells, mimicking the effects of mutations known to cause the debilitating brain disorder. People who have a predisposition for Parkinson’s disease are reportedly more affected by low-level exposures to paraquat.
Paraquat Exposure: The Risk Continues
Although approximately 32 countries around the world have banned paraquat, the herbicide continues to be widely used throughout the United States. And while the EPA has taken a variety of actions to help prevent ingestion and reduce exposure to agricultural workers who mix, load, and apply the toxic chemical, illnesses caused by exposure to paraquat continue to emerge at a rapid rate.
While manufacturers and distributors allegedly knew of the risks associated with paraquat use, they failed to warn users of the dangers, and the safety precautions that could be taken to minimize the risk. As a result, lawyers around the nation are helping victims file injury lawsuits to recover compensation for the losses incurred because of exposure.