Paraquat is an herbicide long used by farmers and agricultural workers across Central Illinois. Though it provides an effective means to control weeds that have become resistant to other products, exposure to it has unfortunately been linked to a greater risk of early-onset Parkinson’s disease. If you have Parkinson’s disease and have been exposed to Paraquat, with the help of a Bloomington Paraquat Lawyer, you may be able to recover significant compensation for the damages caused by the makers and sellers of this toxic product. You can contact us for a free consultation about your situation.
What is Paraquat?
Paraquat is a very toxic chemical used to kill weeds, grass, and other unwanted vegetation. It’s also sometimes used to dry out crops (desiccate) prior to harvest. It’s been used in commercial farming in the United States since the mid-60s, for crops like corn, soybeans, hay and alfalfa, etc.. The health risks associated with it have led over 30 countries to ban the chemical completely, including China, the current owner of the principal manufacturer, Syngenta.
In the US, it’s a restricted-use herbicide — only licensed, trained applicators can use it. But anyone working in commercial agriculture or living near commercial farms may have been exposed to it. It’s very deadly if ingested. But exposure can also occur by inhalation or through the skin. Farm workers can be exposed by mixing, spraying, or loading the chemical, when maintaining tanks and equipment used to spray it, or by spending time in fields where Paraquat was sprayed. Those living near farms can be exposed through spray drift or a contaminated water supply. Even spouses of workers who come into contact may be exposed through contaminated clothing or equipment. So far, legislation to ban it hasn’t been successful. EPA reevaluates these restricted use chemicals every 15 years, and in a recent evaluation approved it, but with a large number of proposed new safety regulations.
Paraquat has been sold under different brand or product trade names. Gramoxone is the most common brand-name, but other products contain Paraquat:
- Helmquat 3SL
- Bonfire Herbicide
- Cyclone SL 2.0
- Par-Shot 3.0
Acute exposure to Paraquat can cause malfunction of many organs, including lungs, liver, and kidneys. Ingestion of even small amounts can result in death. However, chronic exposures over a long period of time have also been found to have adverse health consequences, among them the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s Disease and Paraquat
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive degenerative disease that affects dopamine-producing nerves in a specific area of the brain that mostly affect motor function or movements. These motor loss symptoms can include:
- tremors, or involuntary, rhythmic muscular contractions that can appear as shaking
- slowed movements, or bradykinesia
- rigidity of the extremities or muscle spasms
- lack of facial expression (mask like face)
- gait and balance problems
- voice becoming softer or sounding hoarse
- stooped posture
But, there are other Parkinson’s symptoms that may be unrelated to movement (non-motor), such as sleeping trouble, loss of smell, fatigue, depression, deteriorating mental function, constipation, and others. PD can have a devastating effect on life. It is progressive and there is no cure. There are treatments that can improve symptoms, but they all come with significant side effects, and are life-long.
Causes of Parkinson’s Disease
Most scientists believe that PD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors (like head trauma with brain injury, or exposure to chemicals and toxins). The Parkinson’s Foundation, along with the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council, signed two letters to the US Environmental Protection Agency encouraging them to cancel the registration of Paraquat based on strong scientific research linking the herbicide to Parkinson’s disease.
In fact, Paraquat is one of the chemicals used to cause a Parkinson’s syndrome in laboratory animals in order to study PD. Many studies in animals, involving various routes of exposure, have shown that Paraquat causes oxidative stress that kills dopamine-producing nerve cells, the kind of damage consistent with what is seen in human PD. Numerous studies have found a statistically significant association between Paraquat exposure and the development of PD. One study of US farmers found that those who use Paraquat were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s as those who didn’t. Other research found cumulative exposure over long periods increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Multiple studies have found a 2-5 fold or greater increase in the risk of PD in those with occupational exposure to Paraquat compared to those without. One University showed that proximity to cropland where Paraquat was used (evidenced by zip codes) correlated with the risk of developing Parkinson’s. A study found that individuals who lived within 1600 feet of areas where Paraquat was regularly sprayed had a 75% higher risk of PD.
Product Liability and Paraquat Lawsuits
There is evidence that companies manufacturing and selling Paraquat were aware of the risks of toxicity, yet deliberately concealed it and continued to market it, without disclosure or warning, causing thousands of agricultural workers and residents of nearby communities, and their families, to be exposed to the risk of a life-altering condition. They can be held liable for making and selling a dangerous product without proper warnings.
If you or a loved one has suffered the devastating effects of Parkinson’s disease and had a history of exposure to Paraquat, you can join hundreds of others who have filed claims against Paraquat companies across the US. The number of product liability suits for Paraquat in federal courts is now well over 800 and growing. There are additional cases in state courts. These legal proceedings are in their early phase and facts are still being gathered in the cases (discovery phase).
Of course, filing a claim can’t take away the pain and suffering caused by Parkinson’s disease, but you can pursue compensation for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, costs of rehabilitation and home care, and, in some cases like this, even punitive damages may be awarded. Making a claim can also help hold companies accountable for their wrongdoing and help spread awareness about the dangers of Paraquat.
How Can a Central Illinois Attorney Help You with Your Paraquat and Parkinson’s Case?
A Bloomington Paraquat Lawyer can discuss your situation with you, provide a no-cost consultation to you to help determine if you may be eligible for financial compensation for your damages. The sooner you reach out to discuss your options, the better the chance of your recovering compensation for your losses. Our experienced local team will listen carefully to understand and analyze your particular situation, explain your legal options, and, if appropriate, show you the next steps to pursue the compensation you deserve.
The consultation is completely free and without obligation. There’s no fee unless you successfully obtain a financial recovery. Contact our team today to learn how we can help.