Paraquat and its Link to Parkinson’s Disease
Paraquat manufacturers have known for years that there has been a link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, these manufacturers continue to sell this harmful product, despite the serious health risks. While still widely used in the U.S., paraquat has been banned by 32 countries.
The Paraquat Parkinson’s Disease Connection
The herbicide paraquat essentially destroys everything it’s sprayed on, including weeds. If it’s growing and green, when applied, death is inevitable. Unfortunately, paraquat isn’t just harming unwanted vegetation. Numerous studies, such as one conducted by the National Institute of Health, have identified a clear link between Parkinson’s disease and exposure to paraquat.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a type of neurodegenerative complex syndrome that is associated with aggregations and deposits of specific proteins, apoptosis, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction. The deterioration of the dopaminergic neurons in the brain plays a major role in the development of the disease. Because of the large amount of energy required to send nerve signals throughout the network and the extensive branching, these neurons are vulnerable to degeneration.
The disease is caused by the malfunction or death of dopaminergic neurons. These neurons regulate muscle coordination and movement. To do their job, these nerve cells rely on the energy provided by mitochondria.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
Most experts believe that Parkinson’s is caused by a combination of environmental exposures and genetic factors. The interaction between the environment and genetic susceptibility can be very complex.
An increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease has been found due to chronic human exposure to pesticides and herbicides.
Oxidative stress damages cells, DNA and proteins. Animal studies have shown that the damage done to these cells results in cell death. A person can develop Parkinson’s disease as the result of the loss of function in the dopamine neuron cells found in the substantia nigra pars compacta region of the brain. Scientists believe that dopamine neuron cells may be more vulnerable to oxidative stress compared to other types of neurons. Not everyone with a genetic susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease will develop it, nor will everyone who has had chronic exposure to paraquat.
Signs of Parkinson’s Disease
There are many motor and non-motor symptoms that can indicate the early onset of the disease, such as:
· Resting tremors
· Postural disturbances
· Movement disorder
· Motor deficits
· Limb rigidity
· Impaired balance
· Cognitive impairment
· Loss of voluntary movements
· Mitochondrial dysfunction
People with Parkinson’s disease can also experience other types of severe neurological issues as the disease progresses.
Many people who have been exposed to paraquat have developed severe health issues, such as:
· Balance and coordination issues
· Mood changes
· Behavioral changes
· Delusional thoughts
· Visual changes
· Resting tremors
· Loss of smell
· Loss of memory
· Gastrointestinal distress
· Motor function stiffness and slowness
· Sleeping issues
· Difficulty walking
· Difficulty swallowing
· Speech problems
· Skin changes
· Change in weight
· Difficulty urinating
Over the years, many studies have identified the long-term effects of paraquat exposure in humans, especially in people who have developed Parkinson’s disease.
Research has found that exposure to paraquat dichloride may contribute to early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
The symptoms of paraquat poisoning develop quickly. Immediately after inhaling or accidental ingestion, a person may have pain and swelling in the throat and mouth. Soon after poisoning, a person may experience:
· Difficulty breathing
· Abdominal pain
These symptoms are typically very severe and can cause low blood pressure and dehydration if left untreated.
Even ingesting a small amount of the toxic chemical can result in fatal poisoning.
What’s Being Done to Minimize the Health Risk?
Paraquat is currently banned in 32 countries. Syngenta is a major paraquat manufacturer located in Switzerland. Notably, paraquat has been banned in Switzerland since 1989. Paraquat has also been banned throughout the European Union since 2013, yet a Syngenta paraquat manufacturing facility is located in Northern England.
America has not yet banned the use of paraquat. Considering its potential dangers, why is this harmful herbicide still allowed in the U.S.?
Paraquat is restricted in the U.S. due to its toxicity, and can only be used by licensed applicators who have completed training on how to mix, load, and apply the herbicide. As a result, licensed applicators and the people who work for them are the most at risk for health problems caused by toxic exposure.
Despite growing health concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency has overlooked the link between Parkinson’s disease and paraquat use. However, the agency is taking steps to ensure safer use.
Environmental Protection Agency Safety Measures
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Paraquat Human Health Mitigation Decision involved making changes to the product packaging and safety labels that would prevent improper use of the herbicide paraquat, in addition to paraquat applicator training and a safety awareness campaign.
The FIFRA, also known as the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act of 2016, requires the EPA to re-evaluate pesticides periodically through paraquat dichloride registration review. This re-evaluation took place in August 2021. Through the re-review process, the EPA finalized stronger safety measures for paraquat use that are designed to minimize exposure.
These safety measures include:
· Increasing the restricted entry interval for crops
· Requiring enclosed respirators or cabs for ground boom application
· Prohibiting pressurized backpack sprayer and handgun sprayer applications
· Requiring residential buffers for aerial applications
· Limiting aerial applications
These safety measures will minimize human health risks, such as the development of Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, even though the environmental health agency identified the extreme toxicity of the herbicide after evaluating environmental factors, the herbicide is still widely used.
Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council Requests a Paraquat Ban
In July 2017, the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council and the Parkinson’s Foundation both sent a letter to the federal environmental health agency, requesting that the agency deny paraquat dichloride registration based on evidence of the herbicide’s harm to human health. The organizations called for the herbicide ban after reviewing several studies on its link to Parkinson’s disease.
Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease Lawsuits
As of May 2021, almost 70 lawsuits have been filed by agricultural workers and farmers against paraquat manufacturers, claiming paraquat manufacturers failed to warn them concerning the life-altering neurological effects that paraquat causes. Since then, more agriculture workers and farmers have followed suit in other states.
Law firms representing clients who have experienced severe health effects due to exposure to paraquat are taking legal action against manufacturers who produce this highly toxic chemical. Farmers and other agricultural workers who have been exposed to paraquat may be entitled to compensation for damages including, but not limited to:
· Past and future medical expenses
· Pain and suffering
· Lost wages
· Loss of earning capacity
· Loss of consortium
If you have been exposed to the pesticide paraquat, you need to speak to an experienced paraquat lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney from Nadrich & Cohen can guide you through this complex legal process every step of the way and hold the negligent manufacturer responsible for your damages.
Contact Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers Today
If you have been exposed to paraquat and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be entitled to participate in a California paraquat lawsuit. Contact a paraquat lawyer at Nadrich & Cohen today at no cost to you. At Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers, we will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other losses.
Contact Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers today at 800-718-4658 or text or email to schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.