Paraquat is a popular herbicide that has been used commercially by farmers since the 1960s to control weeds for a variety of crops, especially corn, soybeans, cotton, and grapes. Paraquat is a popular herbicide that has been used commercially by farmers since the 1960s to control weeds around a variety of crops, most notably corn, soybeans, cotton, and grapes. Although Paraquat is now banned (or restricted) in more than 30 countries including Switzerland where the company is based, this toxic weed killer sold under trade names such as Gramoxone, Ortho-Paraquat, Para-SHOT, Parazone, Quick-Quat, Firestorm, and Helmquat among others, remains one of the most popular commercial herbicides around the globe. Manufactured by a Swiss company called Syngenta Group, Paraquat initially gained popularity among farmers as an alternative to RoundUp, to which some weeds are known to develop a resistance to.
Although still not entirely banned in the United States, Paraquat is heavily regulated. Several safety measures have been put in place including the removal of Paraquat from commercial markets. Only licensed individuals are allowed access to the herbicide and can use it for farming.
In addition to regulating the use, the U.S. requires that Paraquat contain a blue dye so that it is easy to distinguish from edible liquids, that it also contains a chemical that induces vomiting, which gives off a strong odor. The most common forms of exposure to Paraquat are direct inhalation or ingestion. People can also be exposed via direct contact with skin or coming into contact with plants that have been sprayed by the herbicide.
Paraquat poisoning is caused by any type of exposure to the chemical, both short and long term. Prolonged exposure has been known to result in death. The most common way that people can be exposed to Paraquat is through inhalation or ingestion. An individual can also suffer from Paraquat poisoning by coming into contact with the skin, whether that be by directly touching the chemical or a plant that has been sprayed.
Symptoms and immediate side effects of Paraquat exposure include:
If you have been exposed to Paraquat through ingestion or inhalation, avoid any further contact with the chemical and seek medical assistance immediately. If your skin has come directly in contact with Paraquat, quickly remove your clothing, wash your entire body, and get medical help as quickly as you can.
One very significant risk factor for those who have been directly exposed to Paraquat is the possibility of developing Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes brain cells to die, leading to a decrease in dopamine levels in the brain, thus causing the life-changing symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can affect both motor and non-motor activities.
Symptoms That Affect Movement:
Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease:
A direct correlation between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease was discovered by a group of scientists that were a part of the FAME study (Farming and Movement Evaluation). During the study, 110 individuals known to already have Parkinson’s Disease were compared to a control group of over 300 in order to eliminate possible variables. The results confirmed that the theory was true– Parkinson’s can indeed result from herbicide exposure. Syngenta, the Paraquat manufacturer, argued that 110 positive Parkinson’s patients seemed a small number compared to the 80,000 Paraquat users in the broader study. Dr. Caroline Tanner, the lead author of FAME, stated that the 110 individuals with Parkinson’s were not compared to the entire population of 80,000, but only to the control group, and the results were conclusive.
Scientists were able to determine that Paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease through oxidative stress. This phenomenon is caused by an imbalance of free radicals (molecules containing oxygen that have an uneven number of electrons) and antioxidants (molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without itself becoming unstable). Essentially, oxidative stress occurs when there are too many free radicals for the antioxidants to maintain balance within the body and can cause damage to DNA, fatty tissue, and proteins. The study also discovered that those who use or have used Paraquat develop Parkinson’s 2.5 times more frequently than those who have not used the herbicide.
Makers of herbicides and other chemicals have a duty to provide safe products that are free from defects and that are not unreasonably dangerous. If there are risks of harm associated with a particular product, the manufacturer must also provide adequate warnings.
We believe the risks of Paraquat exposure may have been mitigated by those that value profits over health. When a manufacturer fails to fulfill its duty, it is legally responsible for the injuries and harm caused by its product.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease as a result of Paraquat exposure, Taylor Martino’s experienced personal injury team is here to help! If you have questions about a paraquat lawsuit, or if you want to speak with an attorney, contact us about your case today!