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Paraquat Linked to Parkinson’s Disease and other Serious Health Issues


The weed-killer Paraquat has been linked to increased rates of Parkinson’s disease and other serious health conditions in farmers, agricultural workers, families living near farming communities and others exposed to the toxic herbicide. Paraquat lawsuits claim Syngenta and other chemical manufacturers have not adequately warned users about the life-altering neurological effects that Paraquat caused them.

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Despite being banned or restricted in more than 32 countries and concerns about Paraquat’s safety for decades--including that direct exposure to the toxic chemical can cause neurological damage and may cause Parkinson’s Disease—it is still one of the most popular common herbicides worldwide. It is classified as “restricted use” in the U.S., and can be used only by people who are licensed applicators.

Paraquat is banned from the country where it was made – Switzerland. Since 2013 it has been banned in England but one of Syngenta’s largest Paraquat manufacturing facilities is located in Northern England -- most of the yield is sent to the U.S. In 2016 alone the U.S. sprayed 7 million lbs. of Paraquat over nearly 15 million acres of land, particularly in soybean fields where the amount has increased exponentially over the last decade. In fact its use has increased by about 200 percent since 2009.

Paraquat has been likened to Napalm—it kills everything it is sprayed on, and not only weeds. It obliterates everything above ground. Farmers use this deadly herbicide  because it eliminates time consuming and expensive tilling.”

Paraquat Lawsuit

Farmers and agricultural workers in the U.S. have filed Paraquat lawsuits alleging its manufacturer, Syngenta Group, failed to warn them about the life-altering neurological effects Paraquat caused them.
In October 217, a Paraquat lawsuit was filed in St. Clair County, Illinois on behalf of farmers and agricultural workers who were exposed to Paraquat and, as a result, developed Parkinson’s disease.  Plaintiffs claim that defendants Syngenta and Growmark manufactured Paraquat, distributed and sold it as Gramoxone or by other names since 1964. As well, Chevron Chemical is a named defendant.  They argue that, before the recent studies linking Paraquat to Parkinson’s, they were completely unaware that the chemical posed any long-term health risks.

Paraquat –Who is at Risk?

Licensed applicators of paraquat are most at risk for exposure. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a study in 2011 found that farmworkers exposed to Paraquat dichloride were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at 2.5 times that of those who were not exposed to the herbicide. However, potential exposure to Paraquat is far-reaching: not only is it dangerous to people working in food and agriculture, but also to everyone who eats food treated with this toxic weed killer because it can leave residue on fruits, vegetables and the soil.

What is Paraquat?

Paraquat is an herbicide used primarily to clear fields prior to planting is applied directly to plants as a spray liquid , killing leaves with direct contact.  According to the Unified Parkinson’s Advisory Council, Paraquat is also used as an herbicide for weeds that have developed a resistance to Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides.

Paraquat is sold under trade names such as as Gramoxone, Ortho-Paraquat, Para-SHOT, Parazone, Quick-Quat, Firestorm, and Helmquat.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease. It is chronic and progressive, with only partial relief of symptoms from today’s medical therapies., Parkinson’s disease affects about 1 million Americans, but with an increasingly aging population comes a greater prevalence of Parkinson’s disease: the disabling disorder manifests  in mid to later years in life.
The disease is chronic and progressive, with only partial relief of symptoms (tremors in the arms and legs, impaired coordination and balance, slow movements, and rigidity of the body and limbs) from medical therapies.

Paraquat and Adverse Health Effects

The CDC warns that ingestion of small to medium amounts of paraquat may lead to many other adverse health effects, including:
  • Heart Failure
  • Kidney Failure
  • Liver Failure
  • Lung Scarring
Ingestion of large amounts of paraquat  leads to the following signs/symptoms within a few hours to a few days:
  • Confusion
  • Acute Kidney Failure
  • Coma
  • Fast heart rate
  • Injury to the heart
  • Liver failure
  • Lung scarring (evolves more quickly than when small to medium amounts have been ingested)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
  • Respiratory (breathing) failure, possibly leading to death
  • Seizures
People with large ingestions of Paraquat are not likely to survive.

How you could be exposed to Paraquat

Ingestion: Paraquat can be mixed easily with food, water, or other beverages. If the form of paraquat that is used does not contain the safeguard additives (dye, odor, and vomiting agent), people might not know that the food, water, or other beverages are contaminated.

Skin exposure: Poisoning is more likely to occur if the skin exposure lasts for a long time, involves a concentrated version of paraquat, or occurs through skin that is not intact (skin that has sores, cuts, or a severe rash).
Inhalation: Paraquat can cause lung damage. In the past, some marijuana in the U.S. has been found to contain paraquat.

Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease – A Brief History

1964: Paraquat was first released in the U.S. to control weeds and invasive grasses for more than 100 crops – the most common are corn, soybeans, cotton and vineyard grapes.

1980s: An experiment in California found that the heroin contaminant MPTP caused users to suffer symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. The experiment showed that MPTP destroyed dopamine neurons, which are the same neurons that suffer damage in Parkinson’s disease patients. MPTP and Paraquat share similar chemical structures.

1997: The EPA announced that exposure to Paraquat is possible for individuals who live near farms where the herbicide is used.

2009: Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology determined that  
exposure to paraquat within 1,600 feet of a home resulted in a heightened Parkinson’s disease risk of 75 percent.

2011: The journal Environmental Health Perspectives published results from a  study of Parkinson’s disease cases that found not only  “Parkinson’s disease strongly associated with” paraquat, but “… many people may be exposed to the pesticide without even being aware of its presence in their environments.”

February 2011:  The NIH conducted the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) study that tracked more than 80,000 farmers, agricultural workers, and their spouses. FAME researchers identified 115 individuals who had developed Parkinson’s.
On the heels of the study, Syngenta claimed on its website that data from the study showed that farmers who use Paraquat are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than the general population. But the study’s authors attested that the data from the study showed that individuals were roughly two and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson’s after being exposed to Paraquat (or a similar herbicide – Rotenone).
 
2014:  the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology published “Environmental Toxins and Parkinson's Disease”, stating the following: “Any pesticides still widely used in the USA, at the level of tens to hundreds of millions of pounds annually, have been banned or are being phased out in the EU, China and Brazil. Of the pesticides banned in at least two of these nations, many have been implicated in acute pesticide poisonings in the USA and some are further restricted by individual states. The EPA has all but abandoned its use of non-voluntary cancellations in recent years, making pesticide cancellation in the USA largely an exercise that requires consent by the regulated industry.”

2016: The EPA said it would re-evaluate Paraquat, including the potential link to Parkinson's disease.

2017: The Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council sent a letter to the EPA, which included facts  that connect Paraquat with Parkinson’s disease. They urged the EPA to deny Paraquat’s reregistration. Further, the Michael J. Fox organization emphasized the economic costs to a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease, such as:
  • $26,400 per year on individual care for a person with Parkinson’s disease.
  • $19.8 to $26.4 billion annual economic burden in the U.S.
  • Costs associated with reliance on programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security Disability Insurance.
October 2017: A lawsuit was filed against Syngenta and Growmark, the manufacturers of paraquat (see above).

2019: A bill was introduced to Congress-- Protect Against Paraquat Act that requires the EPA to cancel the registration for all uses of the pesticide paraquat and to ban paraquat residue on food and prohibit the sale and use of existing stock of paraquat.  It is pending in Congress.

October 2020: The EPA proposed new safety measures to “reduce risks associated with Paraquat in order to better to protect human health and the environment.”

2021:  Paraquat is still sold in the U.S.
 

Paraquat Parkinson's Disease Legal Help

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Published on Apr-14-21

PARAQUAT LEGAL ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS

Louisiana Paraquat Distributor files Toxic Tort Lawsuit against Syngenta
Louisiana Paraquat Distributor files Toxic Tort Lawsuit against Syngenta
August 27, 2021
Shreveport, LA  In a toxic tort lawsuit filed in the Western District of Louisiana, Michael Hensgens alleges that low-level exposure to Paraquat over the years he worked as a Paraquat distributor caused his Parkinson’s disease. Hensgens v. Syngenta will likely be consolidated for pretrial motions with the growing body of Paraquat litigation in the Southern District of Illinois.
READ MORE

Syngenta Sues Insurers to Mount Defense, Pay Excess Claims
Syngenta Sues Insurers to Mount Defense, Pay Excess Claims
June 30, 2021
Wilmington, DE On May 17 Syngenta, the manufacturer and distributor of paraquat-based herbicides, filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware seeking a declaratory judgment that would compel nearly 100 insurers to undertake Syngenta’s defense in the growing number of product-based personal injury lawsuits. The underlying lawsuits focus on the link between the herbicide and Parkinson’s disease, which appears with disproportionate frequency in professionals who used the product under license and according to the manufacturer’s directions. Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company also seeks damages against insurers who, according to the company, also breached other contractual provisions. Some of these breaches allegedly occurred decades ago.
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California Lawsuit: Paraquat Caused Parkinson’s disease
California Lawsuit:  Paraquat Caused Parkinson’s disease
May 25, 2021
San Francisco, CA On April 2, Russell Denes filed a personal injury Paraquat lawsuit in the Northern District of California, alleging that his Parkinson’s disease was caused by his decades’ long, low-dose exposure to Paraquat. Denes, a certified pesticide applicator, allegedly used the herbicide according to safety regulations, and was aware that Paraquat was acutely toxic.
READ MORE

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