If you or a loved one or family member were around pesticides growing up or working on a farm, you may have developed a neurological disease or other conditions from exposure to the pesticides in use. Some pesticides are more toxic than others, and Paraquat is one of the most toxic. In fact, there have been multiple Paraquat lawsuits filed because of the connection between it and neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease.
What is Paraquat and How Bad Is It?
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Paraquat dichloride, commonly known as paraquat, is an herbicide, a commercial pesticide designed to kill weeds in crops. It has been in use on millions of acres since 1961 and was used by farmers and agricultural workers before it became regulated. It is still being marketed and sold as an alternative to Roundup as weeds become resistant to that weed killer.
Pesticides are supposed to inhibit responses in pests that do not have a corresponding reaction in humans. This is what makes them safe to use on a plant or to work around for people.
Unfortunately, Paraquat does not work this way. It is a toxic chemical for consumption and even more so when it is inhaled. In fact, you can compare it to other toxic substances. Glyphosate is a chemical used in pesticides (most notably in Roundup) and considered the least toxic. Aspirin is three times as toxic as glyphosate, arsenic is over six times as toxic. Morphine carries a toxicity of 35 times, but paraquat is at minimum 33 times and up to 250 times as toxic. It only takes around 2.5 grams for a lethal dose, according to researchers.
How Paraquat is Accessed Today
This chemical herbicide is also identified by the brand name Gramoxone. It’s commonly used throughout the world for weed control even though it may not be as recognizable to the public because you don’t often see an advertisement for it.
Today, a person must be licensed to have access to the herbicide in the United States to protect agricultural health and prevent damage to the environment, but it can be accessed in other countries where the death rate is over 70 percent for those who suffer from paraquat poisoning and lack education about its dangers. Even with the applicators being trained on the chemical and the devices to apply it, contact with this chemical can lead to serious illness and this approach may not limit the dangers enough.
How Paraquat Causes Harm
Poisoning from paraquat happens quickly with common symptoms developing almost immediately after it has been ingested. The person may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Lesser amounts may cause the symptoms not to show up for several hours to weeks later while higher doses can lead to death in hours. Cause of death from paraquat can vary, including respiratory failure, liver failure, acute kidney failure and more.
In addition, this chemical is dangerous to the touch. Impact with the skin can lead to death. An epidemiological study indicated that it could cause hypothyroidism. It has a significant effect on many areas of the system. A large body of evidence is showing even more dangers of using this herbicide, which may override the benefits. In fact, in March 2019, the EPA stated that 17 deaths have resulted from ingestion since 2000.
More than 100 crops are sprayed with pesticides containing paraquat. This includes foods for human consumption, such as oranges, coffee beans, almonds and more. It is used in fields, groves and in the fruit orchard. Proponents of the pesticide are encouraging rice farmers to use it to control weeds as well. Paraquat is water-resistant where it can no longer be washed away by rain 30 minutes after application.
Links of Paraquat to Parkinson’s Disease
While the primary concern for paraquat is poisoning, the development of long-term effects are also being investigated through disease research. Some experts are linking this substance to Parkinson’s disease (may also be referred to as Parkinson disease). An early study was conducted in February of 2011 by the National Institute of Health (NIH). The study was called the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) and it explored the idea that exposure to paraquat could cause a higher risk for developing Parkinson’s disease.
Studies on Paraquat and Parkinson’s
While the study was controversial and has created differing opinions, it suggests information that indicated the possibility of a connection between herbicide exposure and the disorder. Syngenta, a Swiss manufacturer of herbicides claimed that the data showed a lower risk for farmers to develop the disease than for the general population, indicating it could not cause Parkinson’s. This statement made it in the news when Danny Hakim of the New York Times reported in the December 2016 online issue. According to the Times, Syngenta’s statement was at odds with the researchers of the health study, including Freya Kamel, a scientist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
A similar study was conducted a year later in 2012 by the Genetic Modification of the Association of Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease showed similar results. In fact, they showed that people who are exposed to the chemical and have a specific genetic variation had an 11 times higher chance of developing Parkinson’s disease.
A study was published in Nature Chemical Biology in December 2016 which further supports the earlier studies. At the center of this study is the idea that paraquat can lead to cell death from oxidative stress.
Studies from national institutes like these are not new and their reach is not limited to the United States, but they do present a growing body of evidence that supports the conclusion against paraquat. A case-control study on the relationship between environmental risk factors and Parkinson’s disease was conducted in Taiwan in 1997. Findings showed that the risk for the disease was greater among those who had used paraquat along with other pesticides such as rotenone than for those who had only used other pesticides.
A Letter to the EPA
In 2017, the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council wrote a letter to the Office of Pesticide Program Docket in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which called for paraquat to be eliminated from agriculture in America. The UPAC is led by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
The letter offered information about the pesticide’s links to Parkinson’s disease and included research that has been done on the topic. It also indicated that studies show that limiting the use of paraquat to licensed users would not be adequate to protect the general public. According to the letter, other studies indicated that the herbicide could be associated with exposure to well water and through the air or on clothing, which would increase the risk for anyone living or spending time in a rural area to develop Parkinson’s.
In concluding, the letter brought to attention the fact that 32 countries have already prohibited the use of paraquat, including those European countries that still manufacturer it. Countries like Great Britain have exported it to the US even though they have banned it at home. The cost of medical care for patients with Parkinson’s was estimated at $26,400 per year. The result is a financial burden of about $20 billion in the US annually. The final plea was to deny the re-registration of the herbicide.
Legal Ramifications for Paraquat Exposure
While massive attention has not been drawn to this pesticide and its effects on people who are exposed, the controversy between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease has resulted in several lawsuits. The first one was filed on September 15, 2017 in St. Clair County circuit court in Illinois. The lawsuit was against Syngenta and Growmark on behalf of Thomas Hoffman.
The claimant died 23 days after the filing of the lawsuit. He claimed he had been exposed to paraquat through farming, beginning when he was in fifth grade. He was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Even more recently, in December 2018, plaintiffs Marvin and Lorena Wendler filed a complaint in the same court against Syngenta Crop Protection LLC and Growmark Inc. The allegations claimed that Mr. Wendler suffers from Parkinson’s because of exposure to paraquat and that the manufacturers did not provide adequate warnings about the risks of the pesticide.
These are not the only lawsuits against Syngenta and Growmark for liability over the link between paraquat use and Parkinson’s disease. However, Syngenta has lobbied against banning the pesticide in an attempt to keep its portion of the market.
Are You Eligible for a Paraquat Lawsuit?
The exact cause of Parkinson’s is not known even though health sciences indicate certain genes may be involved. It is recognized by science that brain cell death can occur because of exposure to certain chemicals. Among these may be paraquat. This chemical reacts with cells similar to the mutations that produce Parkinson’s disease, according to a professor at the University of Guelph who has introduced a study on the potential similarities.
If you have been exposed to the pesticide either as someone who handled it for your business and spread it on crops or from living in a rural area where the pesticide is used, you may be eligible to participate in a lawsuit against the manufacturers of this product.
Agricultural workers and farmers have the biggest risk of exposure, but those who live in rural areas near where the pesticides have been sprayed may also be at risk. It’s important to find out if your Parkinson’s disease may have been caused by the pesticide.
Even if you haven’t yet developed the disease but have signs of developing it, you may be eligible to participate in the lawsuit. You may be able to receive compensation for your condition to help pay for the cost of treatment and other expenses which could be helpful if you have limited resources. This award may have terms for individuals which include settlements for past and future medical care as well as lost wages and pain and suffering for your condition.
If it is determined that the manufacturers of paraquat are aware of the risks and have not properly labeled the product with a disclaimer, they may be held liable for the increased risk of developing this disease or other medical conditions.
The law firm will assess your case and provide legal advice on your best action plan and your rights if you want to continue. You can also seek out medical advice to determine the cost of drugs and other treatments if you have Parkinson disease. This is a condition with no cure and no successful way to recover from the lost brain cells, which is why long-term care is necessary.
You can contact the attorney through email, by phone or on the contact form on the website. Sign up on the site to receive a free case evaluation to determine if you should move forward and to learn more about the process.
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