The herbicide paraquat is used on a host of crops in the United States and around the world. Despite being banned as a toxic substance in 32 countries, it is still used in the US to protect more than 100 different crops.
What Is Paraquat?
Paraquat is a highly toxic chemical substance used primarily to control weeds and grass by inhibiting photosynthesis. It is used on the following crops:
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill green plants indiscriminately.
Paraquat is a rapid-acting, rainfast pesticide, which means it absorbs in a matter of hours and will not wash away in the rain. Though it kills on contact, its ability to strongly bind to soil particles keeps neighboring plants safe.
These properties have made paraquat a farm favorite. The herbicide is one of the most commonly used in the United States.
Paraquat Is Extremely Harmful to Humans and Animals
Though some might have you believe harm from paraquat is uncommon, this is not the case. Paraquat poses a threat to the environment and living animals, particularly humans. It has been shown over and over again to kill more than just weeds.
It may be relatively safe for soil and plant roots, but there are concerns in the scientific community about the effects of long-term environmental exposure after paraquat is used on crops. A study published in Frontiers in Microbiology suggests that toxic residue in the soil and aquatic environments eventually ends up in the food chain.
Paraquat Has Been Banned in Dozens of Countries
For decades, national and international health organizations have been warning the public about its dangers.
Paraquat is now on the list of hazardous chemicals published by the World Health Organization (WHO).
It has been placed under “restricted use” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for decades.
Even more incriminating, perhaps, is that it has been banned in 32 countries.
How Paraquat Exposure Happens
Farmers and other licensed applicators who are constantly exposed to paraquat are most at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Paraquat poisoning can happen as a result of:
- Skin exposure
The extent of the damage paraquat can reap on the body depends on the length of exposure and the manner in which it entered the body.
Ingesting Paraquat Is the Most Dangerous, Fast-Acting Method of Exposure
While skin exposure in those licensed to use it is the most likely form in the United States, the ingestion of paraquat is of particular concern.
In the past, the danger of accidental consumption was higher because it closely resembled coffee or soda. Today, the U.S. version of paraquat has been altered with a blue dye, pungent odor, and an emetic to induce vomiting.
Despite these precautions to mitigate ingestion, even residual amounts of the poison can be fatal if ingested. Forensic Science International published an account of fatal poisoning from a victim who drank water from an empty paraquat container.
Paraquat is so acutely toxic that the EPA has stated that “one small sip can kill you.” For this poison, there is no antidote.
Symptoms of Paraquat Exposure
Depending on the method and duration of exposure, there can be immediate and long-term health effects. MedlinePlus and other health authorities list these possible health outcomes:
- Acute kidney failure
- Heart injury and heart failure
- Liver failure
- Lung scarring
- Muscle weakness
- Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
- Increased heart rate
- Respiratory failure
Ingesting paraquat causes fast, severe poisoning symptoms whether you ingest a little or a lot.
Paraquat Exposure May Cause Parkinson’s Disease
Evidence continues to mount linking paraquat exposure to Parkinson’s disease. Some of the alarming information revealed in various studies is summarized below:
- A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology connects exposure to paraquat and maneb, a fungicide, to a 75 percent increased risk of Parkinson’s disease at a distance of 1,600 feet from a home.
- Farmers who used paraquat developed Parkinson’s disease 2.5 times more often than those who were not exposed, per an NIH study.
- Paraquat destroys cells through oxidative stress, as reported in a study in Nature Chemical Biology. Oxidative stress is linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Paraquat Exposure Victims Suing Manufacturer For Parkinson’s Disease
Syngenta, the manufacturer of paraquat, is now facing multiple paraquat exposure lawsuits from farmworkers who assert that their Parkinson’s disease was caused by the herbicide.
In 2021, the EPA claimed to have reviewed scientific literature on this link and reportedly didn’t see the connection, calling into question the legitimacy and quality of the studies. Just a few years ago, however, they were considering much heavier restrictions.
While the EPA has introduced new “safety precautions” such as limited aerial use and the prohibition of spray applicators, those who are forced to be up close and personal with this highly toxic poison don’t have many options but to risk the health effects.
A Paraquat Lawsuit Lawyer at Nadrich & Cohen Will Help You Fight Back
If you’ve received a Parkinson’s diagnosis that you believe was caused by paraquat exposure, a paraquat exposure lawyer can help. We believe that the evidence supports you, and we are unafraid to wield it to support your case.
Our team at Nadrich & Cohen will fight to make your voice heard and get you the financial compensation you deserve. No matter what type of paraquat injury or illness you’ve sustained, call us today for a free consultation.