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Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease

Paraquat is an industrial-strength herbicide that has been used by U.S. farmers for more than 55 years. It is used to protect soy, corn, cotton and many other crops from invasive weeds. Several scientific studies have linked paraquat to Parkinson’s disease, including a large study of U.S. farmers jointly overseen by multiple Federal government agencies. In 2011, the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) found that those who used paraquat or rotenone were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as people who didn’t use these chemicals.

Parkinson’s is an incurable nervous system disorder that limits a person’s ability to control movement, causing tremors, loss of balance, and often eventually often leaving victims bedridden or bound to a wheelchair. The disease is not necessarily fatal but often becomes severely debilitating.

Along with fears about Parkinson’s, paraquat is known to be an extremely toxic chemical that can quickly kill people who ingest small amounts. At least 32 countries have banned its use, but in the United States, the pesticide is sold as a “Restricted Use Pesticide” due to “acute toxicity.” Since 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required individuals to receive special training in order to become certified pesticide applicators.

Despite the product’s deadliness, it has been kept on the market through mitigation measures designed to reduce accidental poisonings. Today all Syngenta paraquat-containing products include an emetic called “PP796.” Liquid paraquat formulations also include a stanching agent to produce a foul odor and a blue dye to differentiate the dark-colored herbicide from tea, cola, or other beverages.

Herbicides (and their manufacturers) containing paraquat include:

  • Gramoxone (Syngenta)
  • Ortho-paraquat CL (Chevron)
  • Firestorm (MacDermid Agricultural Solutions)
  • Helmquat 3SL (Helm Agro)
  • Parazone (Henkel, ADAMA USA)
  • Para-Shot (Sharda USA)
  • Bonedry Herbicide (Sinon USA)

The labels for paraquat-containing products failed to warn of any risk of neurological disease or Parkinson’s. Manufacturers’ warnings did not even recommend wearing basic safety equipment such as gloves or masks.

Growers, pickers, and other agricultural workers exposed to paraquat are potentially at risk of developing Parkinson’s disease among other illnesses. If you used or were exposed to paraquat and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or are experiencing tremors, please contact Diamond~Massong for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights.

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