Despite the well-known and well-documented health dangers of paraquat — a commercial-grade herbicide — the chemical continues to be manufactured, sold, and utilized regularly in the United States.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides on U.S. crops. Between 10 million and 15 million pounds of paraquat are used on American crops every year.
While the herbicide has been banned in more than 35 countries worldwide — including the European Union and China — there has been no such ban in the United States. In fact, paraquat use has more than doubled in the United States in recent years.
Since the early 2000s, numerous studies have linked paraquat to Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that can lead to uncontrollable shakiness, stiffness, and the general deterioration of motor-function abilities.
If you were exposed to paraquat and now have Parkinson's disease, you may be eligible for compensation from a paraquat lawsuit.
Numerous Studies Link Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease
As stated by the EPA, “Paraquat is highly toxic.…One small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote.” Like poison, paraquat can result in severe illness and even death when accidentally ingested.
Individuals can also be subject to paraquat poisoning by:
- Accidentally getting paraquat on their skin or hair
- Coming into close proximity with recently sprayed plants
- Mixing, loading, or applying paraquat
Beyond its poisonous effects, a comprehensive review of the medical literature on paraquat shows that the rate of occurrence of Parkinson’s disease was 25% higher in individuals who were exposed to paraquat.
The same study also indicates that the longer one’s exposure to paraquat, the higher their chance of developing Parkinson’s disease.
According to the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council, chronic exposure to paraquat can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 200-600%.
The Paraquat Papers: Revealing Hidden Truths
The leading manufacturer of paraquat is Syngenta, selling the product under the brand name Gramoxone®. Other chemical manufacturer giants Chevron, Drexel, and more distributed paraquat under several brand names.
Some brand names of paraquat include:
In October 2022, investigative environmental reporters at The New Lede discovered Syngenta had known — and hid — the dangers of paraquat for decades.
Known as the “Paraquat Papers,” the investigation revealed a myriad of internal documents detailing Syngenta’s tactics to keep paraquat on the market.
As early as 1958, Syngenta scientists became concerned about the effects the chemical had on the central nervous system of laboratory animals. Despite their concerns, the herbicide was still approved for commercial use in 1961.
As reports of the herbicide’s harmful effects began mounting, Syngenta secretly lobbied to keep a chief scientist and critic of paraquat from sitting on an EPA advisory committee. The company's efforts protected “more than $400 million in projected annual global sales.”
Today, Syngenta continues to claim its product is safe and links to Parkinson’s disease are not substantial.
What Crops Is Paraquat Used on?
In 2018, between 10 million and 15 million pounds of paraquat were used on American crops, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Some crops that paraquat is used on include:
- Alfalfa and hay
- Orchards and vineyards
As a result, agricultural laborers and those living in close proximity to where paraquat is sprayed are at especially high risk of developing Parkinson’s.
Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Like Paraquat Health Risks
The sad reality is that the United States lags behind other agricultural nations in banning and eliminating the use of harmful chemicals like pesticides and herbicides.
Beyond paraquat, exposure to a variety of different chemicals can cause Parkinson's and other issues:
- The well-known weed-killer Roundup®, which contains the active ingredient glyphosate, is another prominent herbicide that is widely used in the United States in spite of its link to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- The chemicals that contaminated the water at military base Camp Lejeune for decades have also been linked to Parkinson's disease, multiple types of cancer, and other health issues in exposed veterans and their family members
Because the risks of these chemicals are well established, the companies or parties responsible for exposing workers, veterans, and families can be held legally accountable for their actions.
The Rise in Paraquat Exposure Lawsuits
As of 2023, thousands of paraquat exposure lawsuits have been filed by Parkinson’s disease victims and their loved ones, and many more may be filed in the coming years.
As long as paraquat continues to be used, people are at risk of getting sick and developing diseases. Parkinson’s disease is extremely debilitating. There is no known cure, but treatment that eases symptoms and improves the quality of life with the disease is costly.
The health dangers associated with herbicides like paraquat are incredibly well-documented. However, the companies responsible continue to prioritize profits over the health of their employees and others living nearby.
It’s for reasons like this that injured individuals and their families are fighting back — and the best way to hold such companies accountable is by filing a paraquat lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s after potentially being exposed to paraquat, contact Sokolove Law today for a free legal case review.
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