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Paraquat Herbicide Lawsuit

Widely-Used Commercial Weed Killer Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Bibianne Fell is the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Member.Paraquat dichloride, commonly referred to as “Paraquat,” is a highly toxic chemical used as a fungicide and herbicide/weed killer throughout the United States.  The product is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States, available in various strengths in liquid form.  Paraquat is a “contact herbicide” – meaning that it kills whatever it touches, and it does so quickly and inexpensively.  All Paraquat products in the U.S. are Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) that may only be used by trained certified applicators.  There are no homeowner uses and the product is not allowed to be used in residential areas.

While Paraquat creates great financial savings for farm owners and other commercial interests, research shows that the product poses serious risks to crop and farmworkers’ safety.  Specifically, studies going back as early as 2006 show that exposure to the toxic chemicals in Paraquat can increase the risk of Parkinson’s Disease.

What is Paraquat?

Paraquat is one of the most widely-used herbicides in the United States.  Paraquat is also known by the commercial name “Gramoxone” or “Ortho.”  Its main use is to control weeds in agricultural and non-agricultural settings.  It is also used for desiccation of crops, like cotton, prior to harvest. Desiccation refers to the removal of moisture from the crop.  It is quick-acting and non-selective, killing green plant tissue on contact.  Paraquat is frequently used on such crops as  cotton, and in tree groves including almonds, walnuts and stone fruits.

If a crop has developed resistance to the world’s most popular weed killer, Monsanto’s RoundUp glyphosate, Paraquat is often used as an alternative.  Paraquat is typically applied through aerial crop-dusting, tractor dissemination or formerly through knapsack/backpack sprayers which are no longer allowed.

Regulation of Paraquat

Despite its inherent toxicity and danger to humans, Paraquat’s popularity in the United States continues, despite the product being banned in 32 countries, including the European Union.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even released information stating “one small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote.”  Currently, the EPA is reviewing the safety of the product and its draft risk assessment proposes new heightened mitigation measures to reduce risk to the environment and public health.

Sale and Manufacture of Paraquat

Syngenta and Chevron Chemical  are the main manufacturers of Paraquat, and the product was available for sale in the U.S. as early as 1964.  The product has been sold under various trade names, including but not limited to:

  • Gramoxone
  • Ortho
  • Firestorm
  • Helmquat
  • Parazone
  • Devour
  • Para-shot
  • Blanco

U.S. usage of Paraquat has  more than doubled from 2011 to 2017 (from over 3 million kilograms in to close to 7 million kilograms annually).  People who work with Paraquat or live near areas where it is used heavily remain most at risk of exposure – specifically licensed applicators such as farmers or other agricultural workers, farmworkers, farm residents, and farm neighbors.

More Paraquat is used in California than any other state, with the highest concentration of usage being in the Central Valley, Central Coast, and Greater Sacramento regions.

Dangers of Paraquat

Fatal Paraquat poisoning can occur through ingestion, inhalation, or other direct contact with the chemical – and results in death in 70 percent of cases.  Its toxic effects are immediate and irreversible.  Although the acute poisonous properties of Paraquat are well-known (drinking a teaspoon of Paraquat can easily kill an adult), exposure to mist or microscopic droplets of Paraquat can also cause devastating damage to the human nervous system.

Paraquat Exposure’s Link to Parkinson’s Disease

Scientific research indicates that even low-level chronic exposure to Paraquat can significantly increase the risk of Parkinson’s Disease.  Chemicals in Paraquat increase the oxidative stress in the brain which can harm brain cells and cause the disease.  When a person inhales Paraquat mist, or Paraquat is absorbed through the skin, it can travel through the lungs, the olfactory bulb (the part of the body that drives the sense of smell), the skin, or the stomach to the brain and damage the part of the brain that releases the neurotransmitter dopamine.   Reducing the amount of dopamine-creating cells is one of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s Disease.  Dopamine stimulates the brain to communicate messages within the brain and to other parts of the human body as a whole.  The body’s inability to maintain healthy levels of dopamine can lead to significant cognitive impairment and functioning – including Parkinson’s Disease.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that can affect movement, leading to tremor, stiffness and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination, among other problems.  Beyond the clinical definition, Parkinson’s is a debilitating disease that can also cause chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal problems, memory problems, loss of sense of smell and loss of speech.  There are five stages of Parkinson’s Disease, and diagnosis depends on the severity of the disease’s progression.

There is no single test to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease, and for every diagnosis, up to 20 cases are undiagnosed.  Confirmed diagnoses are typically made by a movement disorder specialist or a neurologist.

Do you Qualify for a Paraquat Lawsuit?

If you or someone you love worked as or directly with a licensed pesticide applicator and are now experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease or facing a Parkinson’s diagnosis, an attorney can help you to file a legal claim for your injuries.  You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and other damages related to your injuries as a result of Paraquat exposure.  Contact a Paraquat attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible for a free initial case evaluation.

Contact a Paraquat Lawyer Today!

Gomez Trial Attorneys’ award-winning lawyers are the very best in the business.  Our attorneys have extensive experience litigating for our clients who have suffered severe harm and complications caused by dangerous products, as well as prescription and over-the-counter drugs and medical devices.

In addition to investigating claims regarding injuries from Paraquat exposure, our attorneys also represent clients in multiple products liability cases, including cases involving defective seat belts, tire defects, and SUV rollovers; defective workplace machinery such as nail guns, punch presses and other construction or manufacturing equipment; and defective boats, airplanes or motorcycles.

Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

John Gomez, Defective Product Lawyer

Our attorneys also are experienced in food poisoning and pharmaceutical drug and medical device cases, including cases involving fluoroquinolone antibiotics Cipro® and Avelox®; chemotherapy drug Taxotere®; metal-on-metal hip implant devices including Biomet hips, Depuy ASR hips, Stryker hips, Wright hips and Zimmer hips; Total Knee Replacement devices including Zimmer and Attune knees; defective IVC filters and recalled Allergan Breast Implant cases.

Gomez Trial Attorneys are not medical experts and do not provide medical advice.

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