Does Paraquat Cause Parkinson’s?
In February 2022, Reuters released a report about lawsuits that allege chemical exposure to paraquat dichloride, an herbicide produced by Syngenta, may have led plaintiffs to develop Parkinson’s disease. Since the report, Syngenta released a statement rejecting these claims, stating insufficient evidence supports whether paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease based on safety studies.
There are over 600 cases filed in multidistrict litigation (MDL) against the company, according to the United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois. If you work in an industry that caused you to have repeated exposure to paraquat, such as through agriculture or landscaping work, and you developed Parkinson’s disease, you may have grounds to sue Syngenta or another paraquat manufacturer for compensation. A personal injury lawyer in your area can help you build your case.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease? What Are Its Symptoms?
Parkinson’s disease is defined as a “progressive nervous system disorder,” according to Mayo Clinic. This condition affects a person’s motor control functions, making it hard for a person to maintain steady movement or balance. Immediate signs include tremors, stiffness, or slow movements.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Tremors or shaking, particularly in the hands
- Slurred speech or other speech changes
- Posture or balance changes, such as leaning to one side or having difficulty maintaining balance
- Slower movements due to difficulty with controlling your movement
- Stiffened muscles
- Other changes in the body’s automatic movements, such as blinking or moving your arms while walking
As a person’s Parkinson’s disease progresses, they might also find it difficult to perform minor movement tasks, such as writing, using utensils, and playing instruments.
Is There a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease?
Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Patients must undergo long-term treatment to manage their condition, which may involve:
- Medication: Various medications exist to treat Parkinson’s, such as levodopa, dopamine agonists, MAO B inhibitors, anticholinergics, amantadine, and entacapone (Comtan). Your physician will prescribe medication based on your health history and the severity of your symptoms.
- Surgery: Some patients undergo “deep brain stimulation,” which involves implanting electrodes into the brain to reduce symptoms. The electrodes are connected to a generator, which is implanted in the patient’s chest and sends electrical pulses to the brain to trigger symptom reduction.
- Lifestyle changes: Patients with Parkinson’s may be advised to make lifestyle changes, such as eating more fibrous foods, exercising regularly, and avoiding tasks that might make them prone to falls. As such, some patients may require assistance with daily living tasks, such as showering or eating.
Other treatment methods fall under alternative medicine, such as tai chi and yoga. Your physician can provide guidance on whether it may be worth seeking alternative treatments for your condition.
How Do We Know That Paraquat Can Increase the Risk of Developing Parkinson’s Disease?
Multiple studies have been released that present how paraquat dichloride exposure might be linked with developing Parkinson’s disease. Some of these studies include:
- A 2020 report by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), which found 458 cases that showed a relevant association between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease development, particularly among agricultural workers.
- A 2019 report by the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health: Part B, Critical Reviews, which found that people exposed to paraquat were 25 percent more likely to develop Parkinson’s, based on nine controlled studies.
- A 2010 report published by Cell Death and Differentiation found that “pesticide exposure and life in rural areas are significant risk factors for [Parkinson’s disease].” At the time, paraquat exposure was also known to cause lesions in the substantia nigra, pars compacta, which are neurons in the brain that focus on motor control.
Is This the Only Herbicide to Be Linked to Adverse Human Health Effects?
No. While more news has shed light on the health risks associated with paraquat dichloride, it is not the only herbicide linked to adverse human health effects, like Parkinson’s disease. Glyphosate, which is commonly found in Roundup, is another herbicide that has been linked to the neural condition.
According to Internal Medicine, glyphosate may cause Parkinson’s disease development due to the neurotoxic effects of one of its metabolites, which resembles the chemical structure of paraquat dichloride.
Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Parkinson’s Disease After Coming into Contact with Paraquat?
Farmers and agricultural workers are largely at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease after coming into contact with paraquat. This is mostly because these workers are certified to apply the herbicide in their fields and work environments.
However, according to The Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council, people who had primary or secondary exposure to paraquat during their adolescence or young adult years have a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s by 200% to 600%. As such, if you worked or lived in environments that may have been exposed to paraquat dichloride, you may be able to hold the appropriate party liable for your damages.
What Kind of Damages Can Affected Victims Receive Compensation For?
If you developed Parkinson’s as a result of paraquat exposure, you may be able to demand compensation for damages, such as:
- Costs for your medical treatment, including future medical expenses you might face for your chronic condition
- Medical or special equipment you had to purchase to accommodate your illness
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disability your Parkinson’s disease caused
- Pain and suffering and inconvenience
- Domestic services you pay for because you can no longer fulfill those tasks independently, such as home care or lawn care services
- Lost wages and benefits if your disease forced you out of work or your industry
- Reduced earning potential
- Loss of consortium if your illness affected the dynamics of your relationship
You may qualify for other damages not listed here, which you can discuss with a team representative at a local law firm near you. Your legal team can also suggest other losses based on the details of your case.
What’s the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Exposure?
Regarding paraquat dichloride, the difference between primary and secondary exposure is:
- Primary exposure: People with primary exposure to paraquat have had direct contact with the herbicide as a result of applying it to their environment. Primary exposure can involve skin, lung, or esophagus exposure. This means the applicant is likely to ingest the toxic herbicide and potentially suffer the side effects of poisoning if they ingest large amounts.
- Secondary exposure: People and animals get secondary exposure to paraquat when the herbicide chemicals sprayed travel through the air or groundwater. These chemicals can contaminate the environment, as shown in environmental studies, which can then reach residential areas. Those exposed may accidentally ingest the paraquat and develop health conditions as symptoms of their exposure, such as developing a fast heart rate or becoming confused suddenly.
If you become exposed to paraquat, seek medical attention immediately to prevent your symptoms from worsening.
A Lawyer Can Build Your Case to Prove You Were Exposed to Paraquat
Whether you suffered primary or secondary paraquat exposure, you must establish how you were in contact with the herbicide, which is not always easy to prove. A personal injury lawyer in your area can investigate your situation to identify key facts that establish how you developed your health condition due to paraquat exposure.
Some of the legal services your lawyer may perform to build your claim or lawsuit include:
- Investigating whether paraquat was applied near your residential home if you had secondary exposure
- Gathering information that proves you frequently have primary exposure to paraquat, such as your certification to use the product, your employment information, and eyewitness information from coworkers or your managers
- Consulting expert witnesses who can testify whether your paraquat exposure might have contributed to you developing Parkinson’s disease or other health conditions
- Fulfilling paperwork for your case and submitting them within your state’s legal deadlines
- Representing you in trial hearings or negotiation meetings, whichever leads to settling your case
Your lawyer can also identify whether your case involves multiple liable parties. For example, if paraquat was sprayed in a recreational park, you may have grounds to sue the local municipality for neglecting to abide by environmental mandates to keep the herbicide away from residential areas.
What Other Health Risks Have Been Linked to Paraquat Use?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other health risks associated with paraquat exposure include:
- Poisoning if ingested in large amounts
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Heart failure and other cardiac problems, such as heart injury or fast heart rate
- Respiratory problems, such as lung scarring, fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), and difficulty breathing
- Scarring in the esophagus, which can make it hard to swallow
- Muscle weakness
If you developed health conditions as a side effect of paraquat exposure, you may have grounds to demand compensation from the paraquat manufacturer. Your personal injury lawyer can consult with your medical physician to determine what might have caused your illness, then use their testimony as evidence for your case.
How Does Paraquat Use Impact Communities and the Rest of the Country?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paraquat has been found to produce ecological risks toward animals and other living species in local environments where the herbicide is applied. Since these findings in 2019, the EPA has required certified applicants to perform spray draft management to reduce the impact on their environment and released new, safer measures for paraquat herbicide in 2021.
Currently, because of the toxicity of paraquat, it is not allowed to be sprayed in residential areas, including:
- Golf courses
- Public playgrounds
- Home gardens and front/back yards
- Local parks
If you discover someone in your residential area is exposing the community to paraquat, you should contact authorities right away to prevent further exposure and potential poisoning.
Is There Any Way to Use Paraquat Safely?
Certified applicators undergo strict safety training to use paraquat. However, homeowners and public users are forbidden from using paraquat, as the product is generally intended for agricultural use.
Safety steps for using paraquat focus on preventing other people from being exposed to the herbicide. Precautions include:
- Following instructions written on the herbicide’s label
- Keeping the herbicide stored in work environments and never in residential homes
- Keeping the herbicide protected in a location where children or animals cannot access it
- Using personal protective equipment to avoid skin, lung, and esophagus exposure to the herbicide
Why Hasn’t the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Banned Paraquat Use?
Though paraquat has been banned by more than 60 countries around the world since the 1960s, it is still one of the leading forms of herbicide used by farmers on an international level. Syngenta even stated on its website that since 2014, the company has trained more than 42 million farmers and agricultural workers on how to use paraquat.
Currently, the EPA puts paraquat under “restricted use,” meaning only certified applicators can use paraquat products for work-related purposes. Due to the toxicity of the herbicide, it is not available for homeowner use, nor is the herbicide allowed for residential areas. This herbicide is generally restricted for grass control in agricultural industries, such as for harvesting purposes and weed control.
Call Today to Get a Free Case Evaluation and Begin Working with a Lawyer
If you or a loved one suspect being exposed to paraquat herbicide might have led to developing Parkinson’s disease, you may have grounds to sue the herbicide company, such as Syngenta. More and more commercial workers licensed to use paraquat are bringing cases forward against paraquat suppliers to hold them accountable for neglecting to warn the public about the herbicide’s link to Parkinson’s.
Call 1-844-448-6787 to discuss the details of your case with one of our representatives, who can then direct you to personal injury lawyers near your area. Your attorney can help you build a product liability case and fight for compensation on your behalf.