Paraquat Dichloride Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Commercial and Residential Property Flood Insurance Changes Coming to FloridaParaquat dichloride (“Paraquat”) is a chemical agent commonly used as an herbicide. It is used on over 100 different types of crops. Because Paraquat is so toxic, it is classified as a Restricted Use Product, meaning only licensed applicators are able to purchase and use the product. As a result of its toxicity, Paraquat has been banned in 32 countries, including Switzerland where it is manufactured by Syngenta.  Switzerland banned the product in 1989. England and the European Union banned it in 2013. Even China announced in 2012 that it would begin to phase out Paraquat to protect human life. Conversely, in the United States Paraquat has become even more popular as an alternative to Roundup.

Exposure to Paraquat has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. If you or your loved one has developed Parkinson’s from exposure to Paraquat on a commercial farm, Phelan Petty may be able to help. Contact us at 804-980-7100 or to learn more.

What is paraquat?

Paraquat is an herbicide used to kill weeds and grass. It is a defoliant, which means it causes the leaves to fall off plants. It does this by affecting the hormonal activity of the plants themselves.

Paraquat is manufactured by Syngenta Group, a Swiss company which was purchased by China National Chemical Corporation. It has offices throughout the world, including one in Chicago.

Other names for paraquat include:

  • Paraquat Concentrate®
  • Gramoxone®
  • Blanco®
  • Cyclone SL 2.0®
  • Firestorm®
  • Helmquat 3SL®
  • Bonedry®
  • Devour®
  • Para-Shot 3.0®

How toxic is Paraquat?

Paraquat has been called “the most highly acutely toxic herbicide to be marketed over the last 60 years.” It can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or ingested, and accounts for at least 17 deaths by accidental poisoning over the last 20 years. It is so dangerous that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires commercial farmers to certify their applicators every three years.

Paraquat poisoning can be injurious and deadly, depending on how much was ingested, inhaled, or absorbed. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “paraquat causes direct damage when it comes into contact with the lining of the mouth, stomach, or intestines. After paraquat enters the body, it is distributed to all areas of the body. Paraquat causes toxic chemical reactions to occur throughout many parts of the body, primarily the lungs, liver, and kidneys.” It can lead to heart, liver, and kidney failure, scarring of the lungs and esophagus, seizures, and respiratory failure, among other serious effects.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s is a progressive nerve disorder. The exact causes are unknown, but genetic mutations, the presences of Lewy bodies, and environmental factors – such as exposure to toxins – have all been linked to the onset of Parkinson’s.

What are the signs of Parkinson’s?

The most recognizable symptom of Parkinson’s is tremors, though the disease can cause loss of mobility and fine motor skills, rigidity in muscles, loss of speech/slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing.

What is the link between exposure to paraquat and developing Parkinson’s?

There have been multiple studies and research papers published on the link between Parkinson’s and exposure to Paraquat.

  1. In 1997, the EPA announces a link between exposure to Paraquat and Parkinson’s: “The primary route of exposure for paraquat is occupational exposure, including during the mixing, loading, and application of paraquat or during post-application processes (US EPA 1997). Paraquat is not registered for residential use, but residential exposure can occur for those living near farms where paraquat has been applied.”
  2. Research into the role of pesticide exposure leading to Parkinson’s was published in 2009, in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study “provide[d] evidence that exposure to a combination of maneb and paraquat increases PD risk, particularly in younger subjects and/or when exposure occurs at younger ages.”
  3. In 2011, the National Institutes of Health releases research that shows people who have used the pesticide Paraquat “developed Parkinson’s disease approximately 2.5 times more often than non-users.”
  4. Additional studies, published in 2011 and 2012, found that people exposed to Paraquat (among other dangerous compounds) “experienced the greatest increase in PD risk. Our results suggest that pesticides affecting different mechanisms that contribute to dopaminergic neuron death may act together to increase the risk of PD considerably” (2011 study) and that people with traumatic brain injuries who were exposed to paraquat faced “almost tripled PD risk.” (2012 study).
  5. In 2018, researchers at the University of Guelph discover “that low-level exposure to the pesticides disrupts cells in a way that mimics the effects of mutations known to cause Parkinson’s disease. Adding the effects of the chemicals to a predisposition for Parkinson’s disease drastically increases the risk of disease onset.” This supports earlier research which found that exposure can “impair mitochondrial function [and] increase oxidative stress” (Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011).

In 2019, Congress introduced a bill to ban paraquat use in the United States.

Who can file a Paraquat Parkinson’s disease lawsuit?

If you work on a commercial farm and have sprayed your fields with a Paraquat product, and were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be entitled to damages. Phelan Petty is currently reviewing cases on behalf of commercial farmers and agribusiness workers who were sprayed with Paraquat, or otherwise directly exposed to this dangerous product, and developed Parkinson’s as a result. Our product liability attorneys are exploring all avenues on behalf of Paraquat injury victims. We also co-counsel with other Paraquat lawyers and partner with out-of-state law firms seeking local counsel.

To learn more about our services, or to schedule a free consultation, please call 804-980-7100, or fill out our contact form. Our firm is based on Richmond and represents clients throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.