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Controversial Herbicide, Paraquat, Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

March 5, 2021 in

Over the last decade, studies conducted on the controversial, yet commonly used herbicide Paraquat, demonstrate its links to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Although manufacturers have been aware of the link between Paraquat and serious health risks, the herbicide continues to be sold without adequate warnings.

What is Paraquat and Why is it Controversial?

First introduced in 1962, the herbicide was developed to maintain grass and weed control. The cheap and fast-acting herbicide quickly became a standard item for farmers across the country.

While Paraquat is an effective weed killer, it is also lethal in small doses and is known as an instrument used to commit suicide. Due to Paraquat’s numerous health risks, at least 32 countries have entirely banned using the herbicide. However, use of Paraquat in the United States has actually increased, with a U.S. Geological Survey indicating a doubling from 2013 to 2017, when an estimated use of Paraquat reached 10 million pounds annually. Paraquat is one of only two pesticides still used in the United States that is either banned or phased out in the European Union, China and Brazil.

The Risks of Paraquat Exposure

To avoid Paraquat poisoning risk, regulators in the United States have registered Paraquat as a RUP (Restricted Use Pesticide), which can only be purchased or used by certified “licensed applicators.” Certified Paraquat Applicators must complete a training program before they are allowed to mix, load, or apply Paraquat. For protection, the manufacturers also add a color dye to the herbicide, a strong odor, and a chemical agent that causes someone who ingests it to vomit.

However, these measures remain inadequate, as they fail to warn about the risk of Parkinson’s disease and fail to prevent exposure or prevent exposure to the harmful chemicals through:

  • Skin absorption
  • Penetration through cuts and abrasions
  • Breathing droplets through the mouth, nose or airways

Once inside the human body, Paraquat can cause a body reaction contributing to developing Parkinson’s disease.

How Does Paraquat Cause Parkinson’s Disease?

When exposed to Paraquat, the human body goes through a reaction called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes the cells to degenerate and die. This reaction is a major contributing factor in Parkinson’s disease, and even low levels of exposure to Paraquat can cause cellular changes associated with the development of Parkinson’s.

The risk of developing Parkinson’s through Paraquat exposure is not limited to the certified applicators alone. Studies have examined exposures to farmers and others who spray Paraquat and people who live near where it is used, which can include nonagricultural settings like those around roads and rail tracks. “The data is overwhelming,” linking Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, said Dr. Samuel M. Goldman, an epidemiologist in the San Francisco Veterans Affairs health system who has studied the connection. “I’m not a farmer, I don’t need to kill weeds, but I have to believe there are less dangerous options out there.”  In 2009, a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that Paraquat exposure within only 550 yards of a home may increase the Parkinson’s disease risk by 75%

Additional studies published in the journal Environmental Health Perspective and data from the National institute of Health (NIH) Farming and Movement Evaluation Study found that not only is Parkinson’s disease positively associated with Paraquat exposure, but farmers using the herbicide are potentially 2.5 times more likely to develop the disease.

Symptoms of Paraquat-induced Parkinson’s disease may emerge with a number of early signs before a full diagnosis, including:

  • Tremors while arms and legs are at rest
  • Stiffness and rigidity,
  • difficulty walking or moving.
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Slowness of movement

Parkinson’s disease problems may also include depression, anxiety, insomnia, memory and behavioral changes, and a myriad of physical side effects.

The Attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath and Cannavo P.C. Are Now Accepting Paraquat Cases

The disturbing discovery of Parkinson’s-causing, Paraquat, has resulted in millions of unknowing users potentially exposed to a dangerous contaminant. The chain of oversights that led to the contamination of Paraquat-based herbicides is a fundamental form of negligence that demonstrates the lack of due diligence of big corporations responsible for upholding public health.

 

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after exposure to Paraquat, do not hesitate to call our New York office for a free consultation with our skilled team of product liability attorneys.

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