Paraquat dichloride is a commercial-grade herbicide that’s widely used in the agriculture industry in the United States. Several studies have linked paraquat to the development of early-onset Parkinson’s disease and other health issues. A number of lawsuits have been filed in response by people who believe their illness is due to long-term exposure to paraquat. If you or someone you loved has been harmed because of your exposure to this herbicide, you should contact a personal injury lawyer for a consultation. You may be entitled to compensation.
What You Need to Know About Paraquat
Paraquat is marketed under several brand names including Gramoxone, Helmquat, Para-SHOT, Parazone, Firestorm, and Quick-Quat. The use of this herbicide has been banned in most of the developed world. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies it under “restricted use” meaning that it should only be used by people with a commercial applicator’s license. As recently as September 2021, the EPA once again approved the use of paraquat by commercial farmers.
Lawsuits against the manufacturers of Paraquat allege that they failed to warn the public of the serious side effects linked to exposure to the herbicide. The key defendants are the Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. Syngenta is the manufacturer of paraquat and Chevron Phillips Chemical was licensed to make and sell paraquat under the brand name Gramoxone in the US.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s is an incurable, progressive neurological condition. It occurs when the neurons that produce dopamine die. When dopamine levels drop, the brain no longer functions normally and this can lead to impaired movements and the other symptoms outlined below. Symptoms include:
- Poor balance
- Rigid muscles
- Speech problems
- Shaking limbs, hands, or fingers
- Slow movements
- Loss of automatic movements such as blinking or smiling
- Handwriting changes
- Sexual dysfunction
- Cognitive impairment
Symptoms tend to start gradually and they may not be noticeable in the early stages.
Scientists don’t yet know exactly what causes Parkinson’s disease. However, they know that genes and environmental factors play a role. Certain genetic variations and toxins seem to increase the risk of Parkinson’s.
Other risk factors include:
- Age – People tend to develop the disease around age 60 or older
- Sex – Men are more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s than women.
- Heredity – Having a close relative with Parkinson’s increases the likelihood that you’ll develop it. This risk is very small unless you have multiple relatives with the condition.
- Exposure to toxins – Prolonged exposure to herbicides and pesticides can make it more likely that you’ll develop the disease.
What the Research Shows About Paraquat and Parkinson’s
A study published in 2011 found that agricultural workers who were exposed to paraquat over ten years or more were almost three times more like to develop Parkinson’s than a control group. Following this, several other studies and medical reports pointed to a connection between long-term paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s. Both people who worked on farms and those who lived nearby showed elevated rates of the chronic movement disorder. However, the EPA maintains that there is no clear link to adverse health outcomes such as Parkinson’s.
Most of the research on the link between paraquat exposure and ill health has been focused on adults. However, in September 2021, the medical journal Chemosphere published the results of a French study on how pregnant women were affected by paraquat exposure.
In the study, pregnant mice were exposed to high levels of paraquat that simulated the exposure of expectant mothers who work on farms or live near them. Genetic tests on the fetuses showed changes in their brains that were similar to those of people with Parkinson’s disease. The researchers concluded that exposure to paraquat during pregnancy can lead to developmental defects in the brain of the fetus.
Additional Health Risks Associated with Paraquat
In addition to the possibility of developing early-onset Parkinson’s, prolonged exposure can also lead to:
- Kidney damage
- Severe dermatitis
- A compromised immune system
- Reduced lung function
- Reproductive issues
Contact The Class Action Lawyers Coalition About a Paraquat Lawsuit
If you were exposed to this chemical for a long time and you developed Parkinson’s or another serious health problem, you may be entitled to compensation. By joining a class-action lawsuit, you can increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. We represent clients nationwide and we help them to get the compensation they deserve for their losses. You may be able to claim damages for medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and other losses. Contact our team of class action lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.