Recently, toxic exposure to paraquat has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease resulting in deaths across the United States and the rest of the globe. Sadaka Associates, based in New Jersey, is committed to representing those harmed by toxic exposure to paraquat at home or work.
As of today, the use and sale of paraquat containing products are banned in over thirty countries, including China and Japan. South American giants such as Brazil have also forbidden the purchase and use of all paraquat products. Extensive research of the lethal nature of paraquat toxic exposure has even prompted all countries within the European Union to ban paraquat products as of 2007.
In the United States, however, paraquat is classified by the EPA as “restricted use” which allows the toxic chemical to be used in the United States.
Paraquat is a Toxic Chemical is Still Being used in the United States.
Paraquat sometimes goes by the retail/brand name Gramoxone or the name paraquat dichloride. It is an extremely harmful herbicide that has been used across America since the early 1960s in agricultural and non-agricultural territories. Paraquat is still widely available in the United States.
Paraquat products, unlike other herbicides, are non-selective in the type of plants or vegetation they kill upon contact. Labels warn that a mere sip of paraquat can kill people. Information from manufacturers of long-term paraquat toxic exposure is sparse or altogether missing. However, mounting research and hospital reports have demonstrated that paraquat not only kills but causes Parkinson’s disease. None-the-less paraquat is readily available in the United States.
With the growth of the wine industry, California alone accounts for a vast increase in the use of paraquat in orchards and on grapes. Farmers dotted across the United States purchase paraquat for the cultivation or control of corn, rice, soy, fruits, vegetables, hay, and alfalfa. Paraquat is renowned for its use as a drying agent for cotton and previous use by the government to wipe out illegal marijuana and poppy seed fields.
Paraquat and the Law
Advocacy groups have been trying for years to halt the use of paraquat, citing it as an egregious and elevated risk to humans and the environment. Decades of lobbying saw increased regulations for paraquat and its current classification as a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP). Today, only certified applicators are allowed to handle it. This new legislation is a monumental victory over the past ordinance that allowed uncertified applicators to mix the herbicide if they were under the supervision of a certified applicator.
Thanks to the lobbying from different groups, the weed killer is now prohibited for home use, and strict regulations are enforced for labeling the contents and ensuring they are never transferred into any other type of container. The pace of progress is still slow, however. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in its 2019 draft ecological risk assessment, pointed to the risks that paraquat toxic exposure posed to birds, invertebrates, mammals, and a host of plants that we depend on to balance our ecosystem. Other protection groups have drawn attention to the increased link between paraquat and suicide along with an even more distressing and direct link to Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s Disease and Paraquat Toxic Exposure
Many people unwittingly used paraquat for decades, slowly poisoning themselves in the process. A slew of retired farmers have respiratory problems when they are older but fail to make the connection to paraquat toxic exposure. Farmers and farmworkers also develop Parkinson’s disease due to gross negligence on the part of the manufacturers to inform and warn consumers that paraquat toxic exposure doubles the chances of having the disease.
Parkinson’s disease is an incurable neurological disease that affects motor skills. Paraquat toxic exposure leads to a depletion of dopamine, the brain chemical vital for movement, memory, and regulating mood. When paraquat breaches the mid-brain, it eats away at dopamine, causing shakiness or tremors of the hand, alterations to speech, and other motor function impairments.
Parkinson’s can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s or even dementia, but with the proper tests and scans, it can be diagnosed properly. As the disease progresses it causes more damage to other neurological functions, making the patient irritable, depressed, and unable to care for themselves.
Other symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- Uncontrollable trembling all over the body
- Limb stiffness
- Moving slowly
- Unnatural gait and balance
- Prone to falling
The correlation between Parkinson’s and long-term paraquat toxic exposure is so undeniable that scientists intentionally introduce paraquat poisoning in laboratory mice to induce Parkinson’s
Who is at Risk?
Licensed Paraquat Applicators, Farmers, Pickers, and Growers
As paraquat is distributed as an herbicide, farmers and farm workers (including pickers and growers) are the largest affected groups of paraquat poisoning. The chemical can be inadvertently ingested through mists in the air when it is sprayed on plants.
Paraquat can penetrate broken skin (cuts, bruises, sores, and rashes). If a concentrated dose of paraquat remains on the skin for a long time, this can also cause poisoning. Nowadays, only licensed applicators (including crop dusters) can use paraquat, so this puts everyone authorized to purchase it in grave danger of paraquat toxic exposure.
Farmers’ Families and Anyone Who Lives on a Farm
The sheer presence of paraquat on farms increases the possibility of farmers’ wives, children, and guests being exposed to it. The EAP has documented a worrisome number of cases of accidental deaths caused by family members drinking left-over paraquat stored in plastic bottles. One man forgot he had poured paraquat in his coffee cup and died shortly after consuming it.
There have been innumerable complaints to poison control units of deaths caused by accidental exposure to paraquat, a significant number of which were due to accidentally consuming it from beverage containers such as soda bottles and iced tea bottles.
Young children are at great risk and have been victims of paraquat poisoning and death due to accidental ingestion. Additionally, there have been incidences of certified paraquat applicators giving a portion of their paraquat to unlicensed family members, thus adding to the fatality rates.
Homes with Wells
Paraquat mist can contaminate water supplies, including rivers, ponds, and wells close to areas where it is sprayed.
Citizens in Rural Areas
If you live in a rural area surrounded by farming land, paraquat mist can linger and wander to your location where you could inhale it. Repeated and long-term second-hand inhalation is equally dangerous.
Landscapers and Gardeners
Are you a landscaper using paraquat to destroy parasite weeds? If so, your exposure puts you at risk.
Symptoms of Paraquat Toxic Exposure and Poisoning
Once swallowed, the effects of paraquat are almost instant. These are some of the symptoms of acute paraquat poisoning:
- violent vomiting of blood
- dysphasia/difficulty speaking
- mouth ulcers
- respiratory difficulties
- extreme gastrointestinal discomfort/abdominal pain
- uncontrollable shaking and chills
Most cases of paraquat poisoning result in death within 24 hours. Progressive symptoms include complete respiratory collapse, as well as kidney and liver damage.
Paraquat can overwhelm all organs, especially ones with a high blood supply, because it produces an effect that reacts with oxygen to inflict cellular damage. For this reason, even if a patient has a failing respiratory system, giving them oxygen only worsens and hastens their demise. Health complications related to the dye that gives paraquat products a distinct blue color can also arise.
Treatment for Paraquat Toxic Exposure
When a patient presents to the hospital with signs and symptoms of paraquat poisoning, doctors usually administer activated charcoal and try to pump the patient’s stomach. This can be useful if patients are admitted within 1-4 hours of ingesting the poison and the dosage was minimal. Pumping the patient’s stomach puts elaborate strain on the kidneys and excretory system to filter out the toxins. The process is a painful ordeal.
Another approach doctors try is antioxidant therapy. Notwithstanding this, very few people survive even a tablespoon of paraquat consumption. The handful who do have lasting impairments and damage to their lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver and may need lifelong support and medical care.
There is no cure for those who develop Parkinson’s from paraquat toxic exposure. Treatment includes dopamine, which attempts to restore healthy cell reserves. Some patients are put on a dopamine promotor medication known as Levodopa and may need to take it for the rest of their lives.
In some less responsive cases, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an alternative to other forms of medication. The costs for care and treatment quickly skyrockets and places an immense burden on the sufferers, their family, and caretakers.
- Due to the series of fatalities associated with paraquat toxic exposure, only certified users can pour, mix, and apply it.
- Paraquat must never be transferred to any type of food or drinking container and should never be used in or close to residential buildings, schools, or parks.
- Paraquat products need to be secured in locations where children and non-permitted users can’t find them. Applicators should never remove paraquat from such a location unless they plan on using it immediately.
- If your clothing has paraquat on it, immediately shed it, seal it in a bag, and allow for the authorities to properly dispose of it. Do not touch surfaces that have paraquat on them and avoid touching any part of your face, especially mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, and mouth, if you suspect paraquat is on your hands or if you were working with it.
- Flush your eyes for more than 15 minutes if paraquat contacts them and find the nearest hospital for emergency care if you have swallowed, suspect to have swallowed, or have been exposed to paraquat and exhibit symptoms of poisoning.
Other Names Paraquat Goes by
Why Is Paraquat Still Used?
Considering all the horrors we know about paraquat toxic exposure, why is it still used? The answer is simple. It is a cheap and readily available chemical to quickly exterminate undesired plants and herbs and create a fresh surface for mulch and other crops to grow. The agricultural sector is a billion-dollar industry, so it is in the interests of those who profit from it to have speedily produced crops for local and international distribution. Additionally, plants are growing resistant to other forms of herbicide such as Roundup, and this drives the sale and application of paraquat in agricultural use.
Recent Litigation Issues
Many organizations have been investigating the distribution of paraquat over the years, filing complaints, and documenting scientific studies of the life-threatening nature of paraquat toxic exposure.
The EPA and many other environmental safety regulatory boards are currently in the infant stages of presenting paraquat as one of the biggest product liability litigations in history.
If you are in one or all the groups most at risk for paraquat toxic exposure, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Lawsuits are already being filed in places like Illinois and Alabama by laborers in the agricultural sector who have been exposed to paraquat. Below are a few of the grounds on which you can file a claim:
- loss of income and or income-generating ability
- having Parkinson’s disease or an elevated risk of Parkinson’s
- currently exhibiting Parkinson’s or Parkinson’s-like symptoms
- emotional and physical trauma/suffering experience (tremor, pain, depression, lack of mobility) due to not being informed of the dangers of paraquat.
The major paraquat manufacturers that have come under scrutiny are Syngenta, a Swiss producer, and Chevron. All group or branch companies affiliated with these two parent companies are also liable.
Is My Claim Still Valid Years Later?
We are here to help you determine the rights and compensations that may be owed to you. Your claim can still be valid even if your exposure to paraquat was several years ago. If you have Parkinson’s and were diagnosed several years ago, this also applies to you. If you are currently exhibiting symptoms synonymous with Parkinson’s disease, you are encouraged to seek a diagnosis as soon as you can.
It is essential to consult a lawyer who can advise you as to the particulars of your specific case. Some of the questions your lawyer might ask you are:
- What kind of exposure did you have (commercial or residential)?
- Where is your property located?
- How many acres is the property?
- If you have Parkinson’s, have you been prescribed Levodopa?
- What is your family history of Parkinson’s?
- What other chemicals were you exposed to?
- When were you first and last exposed to paraquat?
- Which state(s) were you exposed in?
Please note, this is not a comprehensive list and you may need to inform us of the type of paraquat you used (if you were/are a farmer) or exposed to. Should there be any reason you cannot remember the name, it might be useful to recall the color and smell of the chemical. Most clients will remember paraquat as being blue and having a rather distinct smell.
How Strong is My Claim?
Of course, your lawyer will review the facts of your case with you, ask questions to determine the strength of the claim.
If your case has a good foundation, a claim can likely be brought against these manufacturers for damages caused by not fully disclosing the risks involved with the purchase and use of paraquat and any surfactants that accompanied it.
Be sure to contact Sadaka Associates in New Jersey to discuss your case of paraquat toxic exposure. We have years of experience handling issues of toxic exposure and providing invaluable assistance and insight to our clients. Please give us a call at 1-800-810-3457 to schedule your free no-risk case consultation.