Industrial Herbicide Linked to Nervous System Disease and Other Health Concerns
Paraquat Dichloride, commonly known as paraquat, is a commercial herbicide used to kill weeds. It’s not sold on the general market due to its high levels of toxicity. In fact, it’s so toxic that ingesting just a tiny sip can be fatal. What’s even worse is that there is no antidote. Paraquat exposure most frequently occurs when it is prepared, applied, and after it is applied. Although its use is illegal in 32 countries, it remains one of America’s most popular industrial herbicides.
It’s relied upon to control weeds in many agricultural and non-agricultural settings. It is also used for the desiccation of crops, such as cotton, before harvest. There are no homeowner uses and no products registered for application in residential areas. All paraquat products registered for use in the U.S. are Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) which can only be used by trained, certified applicators.
Since it is widely used on the commercial market, there are several different brands of paraquat. Gramoxone is one of the most popular. The Swiss agrichemical corporation Syngenta manufactures this brand.
Currently, there are over a dozen lawsuits pending in U.S. courts against Syngenta and Chevron Corporation. Chevron previously had the rights to sell paraquat during the 1960s with a company that ended up becoming a part of Syngenta.
The Risks of Paraquat Exposure
Recently, multiple studies have shown that those exposed to this herbicide have up to two and half times greater risk of being diagnosed with a progressive nervous system disorder known as Parkinson’s disease than those who had no exposure. This condition affects movement with a gradual onset of symptoms that sometimes begin with a slight tremor in one hand. Tremors are a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease, but it also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.
Facial expressions can become minimal or non-existent in the early stages of this disease. The affected person’s arms might not swing as their walk, and their speech might be unusually soft or slurred. Unfortunately, these symptoms will progressively worsen over time.
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s diseases, although medications can substantially improve symptoms in some patients. Sometimes surgery might be used to regulate certain regions of the brain and improve symptoms.
Those diagnosed with Parkinson’s may also experience:
- Difficulty with cognition and concentration
- Depression and emotional changes
- Difficulties swallowing, eating, or chewing
- Sleep disturbances or disorders
- Urinary system problems
- Problems maintaining a healthy blood pressure
- Changed sense of smell
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic pain that can be generalized or limited to a specific area
- Sexual dysfunction
How Can Paraquat Cause Parkinson’s Disease
Paraquat uses oxidative stress to kill living human cells. It alters cell chemistry, causing cell damage and eventually death. Parkinson’s disease arises from the loss of function in the dopamine neuron cells in a specific and small region of the brain. Neurons in this area may have increased vulnerability to oxidative stress than other neurons. As a result, they are at significant risk of being affected by paraquat, especially in individuals with a genetic susceptibility. However, it’s essential to note that not all people who are exposed to paraquat will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, neither does everyone who has a genetic susceptibility.
Other Paraquat Health Risks
Many deaths occur all over the globe each year from accidental ingestion of paraquat, typically as a result of the concentrate being placed into a beverage container. Paraquat and another herbicide, Diquat, caused 85 percent of all herbicide-related deaths in the U.S. between 1998 to 2011.
In addition to the increased risk of the neurological disorder Parkinson’s disease, other health risks due to long-term low-dose exposure to paraquat include:
- Kidney disease
- Scarring of the lungs
- Liver failure
- Injury to the heart
- Pulmonary edema
- Muscle weakness
- Esophageal strictures due to the scarring of the upper tube of the digestive tract known as the esophagus
Why Hasn’t the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of Paraquat in the U.S.?
Politics has unfortunately impacted the EPA’s approach to paraquat. EPA currently is reviewing and paraquat. The scientific community continues to work to influence the agency to prioritize human and environmental health over politics and profits.
However, in 2016, to reduce exposure to workers who mix, load, and apply paraquat, the EPA began requiring:
- Warning labels to highlight the toxicity and risks associated with paraquat products
- Restricting the use of paraquat to certified pesticide applicators only
- Specialized training for certified paraquat applicators emphasizing that the chemical should not be transferred to or stored in improper containers
- Newly designed closed-system packaging to stop transfer or removal of the pesticide except directly into proper application equipment
Were You Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease or Other Medical Problems After Exposure to Paraquat? Seek Legal Representation Today
Suppose you were exposed to paraquat and later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or another serious health issue. In that case, you could have a valid personal injury claim. This means the manufacturers of paraquat or other parties might owe you compensation for your injuries. The best way to find out is to speak to a personal injury attorney at the Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers. You could be owed compensation for your damages such as:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You need an attorney who is well-versed in representing clients who have been injured by defective products such as chemicals and dangerous drugs. Your attorney will need to establish that you were exposed to paraquat and that you suffered injuries and damages as a result. If you or your lawyer can’t prove these things, you won’t be eligible for compensation.