In California, many people use paraquat-containing herbicides to prevent weeds from encroaching on their lawns and fields. Paraquat-containing herbicides are commonly used by farmers and agricultural workers, and many people are unaware of the potential dangers these substances pose. Paraquat is a chemical found in many industrial herbicides, including Gramoxone, Parazone, Para-Shot, Helmquat, and others. People who directly use paraquat-containing herbicides with licenses and those who are indirectly exposed to this chemical over a long period of time have a heightened risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. People who have developed Parkinson’s disease after exposure to paraquat-containing herbicides might be entitled to pursue compensation. An experienced product liability attorney at the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC, can review your case and explain whether it has legal merits.
Link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease
Paraquat is a common chemical found in many industrial herbicides that farmers and agricultural workers use on fields to control weed growth. It is used across the U.S. and the world. Researchers have found a link between paraquat exposure and the development of Parkinson’s disease. In a 2019 systematic review, researchers found that Parkinson’s disease occurrence was 25% higher in people who had been exposed to paraquat versus those who had not.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that can be fatal. While Parkinson’s disease can also be genetic, its onset might also be caused by pesticide exposure. If you have developed Parkinson’s disease after being directly exposed to paraquat-containing pesticides or indirectly exposed over a long period of time, you might be entitled to compensation for your losses. The attorneys at the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC are currently evaluating paraquat injury claims and can help you understand the rights that you might have.
What is paraquat?
Paraquat or paraquat dichloride is a hazardous chemical used to control weeds and grass. It works as a defoliant on crops before they are harvested. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paraquat is one of the most widely used pesticides in the U.S. for farming purposes. Paraquat-containing pesticides are restricted use products that can only be applied by certified applicators.
Paraquat was first produced in 1961 as Gramoxone. Paraquat-containing pesticides are dyed blue to keep people from confusing them with beverages. Swallowing paraquat can be fatal. There are several brand names of paraquat-containing herbicides, including the following:
Gramoxone is the most widely used and is manufactured by a global company based in Switzerland called Syngenta.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people might be exposed to paraquat in the following ways:
- Accidental ingestion
- Skin exposure over long periods
Paraquat mixes with food, beverages, and water very easily. If a pesticide does not include dye, people might not know that their food or beverages are contaminated and could potentially die. Indirect exposure to the skin over a long time can also lead to neurological damage. If the skin is not intact, the effects can occur faster. Inhaling paraquat can also result in lung damage, poisoning, and neurological problems.
People who are employed by licensed applicators and those who work on farms are the most at risk of being harmed by paraquat. The EPA reports that 1,400 paraquat poisonings were identified by California’s Poison Control system in the 10 years between 1998 and 2009. The California Poison Control System and the American Association of Poison Control Centers notified the EPA after 50 deaths caused by ingesting paraquat in the San Joaquin Valley in 2013. In 2016, the EPA took action to reduce the risk of paraquat ingestion and exposure. Many of these deaths resulted after people accidentally ingested paraquat that was stored in unmarked bottles.
What are the side effects of paraquat exposure?
If a person accidentally ingests paraquat, he or she might immediately experience pain and swelling in the mouth and throat followed by the following potential symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody diarrhea
- Low blood pressure
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Severe dehydration
- Kidney failure
- Heart failure
- Lung scarring
- Liver failure
If a person only ingests a small amount of paraquat, the symptoms might not develop for a few days or weeks.
Ingesting paraquat can also cause these additional symptoms:
- Kidney failure
- Heart damage
- Muscle weakness
- Pulmonary edema
- Respiratory failure
Parkinson’s disease and paraquat
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that causes brain cells to die over time. People who have Parkinson’s disease may experience multiple symptoms, including tremors, uncontrolled movements, rigidity, slowed movements, and motor control issues. People may also have difficulty swallowing and speaking.
In 2009, the Journal of Epidemiology published a study in which researchers found paraquat sprayed within 1,650 feet of people’s homes was linked to a 75% increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. In 2011, the National Institutes of Health published a study in which a strong link was found between Parkinson’s disease and exposure to paraquat. Epidemiological research into paraquat exposure and the development of Parkinson’s disease continues.
Paraquat injury lawsuits
In March 2021, The Guardian reported that a former scientist at Syngenta claimed that the company could have made changes to its formula to make Gramoxone safer. Internal corporate documents also demonstrate that Syngenta might have known as far back as 1968 that an additive would make the product less deadly but resisted changes because of profit motives.
Syngenta and other manufacturers may have known about the link between Parkinson’s disease and paraquat for years but failed to disclose the risk. The manufacturers’ failure to provide adequate warnings to the public might mean that people who were exposed to paraquat and later develop Parkinson’s disease may have grounds to file product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers. Manufacturers are required to adequately warn the public about the risks of their products and can be liable when people are harmed because of their failure to warn.
People who developed Parkinson’s disease after exposure to paraquat began filing lawsuits against Syngenta and other manufacturers beginning in 2016, according to Syngenta’s 2018 Financial Report. Since then, many other plaintiffs have filed paraquat injury lawsuits after developing Parkinson’s disease following exposure to this chemical.
Why file a paraquat injury claim?
There are several reasons to consider filing a paraquat injury claim against Syngenta or another manufacturer. A lawsuit against the manufacturer might help to spread awareness about the dangers of paraquat exposure and help you to secure compensation for your losses. It can also help you to hold the manufacturers accountable for their actions.
Manufacturers of chemicals and pesticides owe a duty of care to adequately warn consumers of the risks involved with their products. They also owe a duty to provide reasonably safe, defect-free products. Manufacturers are required to include warnings about known risks of using their products on warning labels.
When a manufacturer fails to warn consumers about the dangers of their products, it should be held accountable when people suffer injuries because of using their products.
Damages in a paraquat injury lawsuit
If you developed Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to paraquat, you might be entitled to recover compensatory damages for both your economic and non-economic losses. Some of the damages that you might be able to recover through a paraquat injury lawsuit include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses for treating your injuries
- Past lost wages
- Future anticipated lost wages
- Physical pain and suffering
- Reduction of your ability to enjoy life
- Therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Lost rights to an inheritance in wrongful death claims
- Burial and funeral costs in a wrongful death claim
- Loss of consortium/guidance in a wrongful death claim
If the paraquat manufacturers are found to have willfully concealed information about the risks of paraquat, punitive damages might also be recoverable.
Talk to an experienced paraquat injury lawyer
If you were exposed to paraquat and subsequently developed Parkinson’s disease, you should talk to an experienced paraquat injury lawyer at the Steven M. Sweat, Injury Lawyers, APC. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and help you to understand the legal options that might be available to you. Call us today for a free consultation at 866.966.5240.