Paraquat lawsuits filed against manufacturers of the popular poison have followed the discovery of evidence linking Paraquat exposure with onset symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. A toxic herbicide banned in many civilized countries but not in the U.S., Paraquat has adversely impacted many lives.
Paraquat lawsuits accuse manufacturers of raising people’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. against several companies that produce Paraquat.
The suits allege that exposure to Paraquat has caused the onset and development of Parkinson’s disease. Given Paraquat’s well known hazards, it seems remarkable (if not downright criminal) that it remains available on the U.S. market today. It is banned in more than 30 countries. The toxic poison has, however disturbingly, been available for a long, long while here in the U.S.A. It’s enough to make even a mildly curious person wonder whether our own government regulatory agencies, such as the EPA, have been captured by industry.
What Is Paraquat?
Paraquat was first discovered in the 1950s. It has been used commercially since 1961. The poison works by attacking plant cells at their core, or the mitochondria. Paraquat stunts or stops plant growth, leading directly to cell death.
Despite its well-known safety hazards, Paraquat is one of the World’s most widely used herbicides. A principal concern over Paraquat is its indiscriminate killing properties. In a single application, it can kill nearly every type of vegetation it contacts: grass, trees, crops, et al. If it grows, Paraquat can probably kill it.
Paraquat does its worst work (or its best, depending on your angle) when it is sprayed on living things in hot sunlight. Such light increases Paraquat’s solubility, helping the poison break down normal plant growth processes.
Even in tiny amounts, Paraquat exposure can cause serious health problems. Accidental ingestion can occur when crops aren’t properly washed before being sold. What constitutes proper washing, or whether any type of washing is sufficient to reverse or adequately mitigate Paraquat plant contamination, to make something safe to eat, is another story.
Exposure can lead to serious lung damage, including pulmonary edema. Such fluid accumulation in the lungs can prove lethal. Paraquat itself has been proven deadly. Some farmers have been known to commit suicide by ingesting tiny amounts of it.
Paraquat link to Parkinson’s Disease
Growing evidence links Paraquat exposure to Parkinson’s disease. While this debilitating disease can be connected with genetic factors, studies have found that the risk of developing Parkinson’s is significantly increased following exposure to Paraquat. As a whole, this research provides strong evidence that Parkinson’s disease may be triggered by repetitive or chronic Paraquat exposure.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating and degenerative disorder that impacts motor skills, speech, cognition, and it can deleteriously affect other normal activities like sleep. In most cases, it is not fatal, but it is often terribly debilitating. Parkinson’s disease exploded into public awareness with the public disclosures that actor Michael J. Fox and boxing great Muhammad Ali were diagnosed with it. Millions saw how physically debilitated those men became. Millions have now witnessed the tragedy of Parkinson’s disease on their television screens, if not in the personal lives of their own loved ones.
Paraquat & Parkinson’s Disease Studies
The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study in 2009 that showed Paraquat might trigger a neurodegenerative process that can eventually lead to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The study showed that people living within 500 meters from an area sprayed with maneb and Paraquat herbicides could increase Parkinson’s disease risk by 75%.
The first study to link Parkinson’s with Paraquat examined Brazilian patients. From 1989 to 1994, and from 2003 to 2008, Parkinson’s disease rates had doubled for some, according to the researchers. Those who lived within a 100 km radius of Paraquat was sprayed, or even just stored, showed an increased rate of Parkinson’s disease. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are an additional 50 cases of intoxication not accounted for, for every one that is reported. This is thought to be the case in Brazil because most workers don’t report their cases to companies or to the Brazilian Social Security Institute, since they know they have no legal rights to hold the companies responsible.
On July 24, 2017, the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council attempted to reach out to the U.S. EPA regarding Paraquat exposure. The Council wrote a letter that highlighted the growing evidence related to the onset of Parkinson’s disease as a result of Paraquat exposure. Consequently, this act urged the EPA to ban the use of this toxic herbicide. The letter said Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council wished to see Paraquat use eliminated from the American agriculture system altogether because of its acute toxicity and organ failure by inhalation. The Council also pleaded with the U.S. EPA to acknowledge that the increased risk of Parkinson’s disease can be attributed to low-level chronic exposure to paraquat.
How do I Avoid Paraquat Exposure?
Parkinson’s patients and people who wish to avoid Parkinson’s disease can take steps to limit their risk. Eating fewer processed foods and more organic fruits and vegetables are steps in the right direction. If price is a problem, one can find good organic produce at local farmers’ markets, or even start growing food at home. It’s best to plant outside of a 100 km radius of where Paraquat might be sprayed. Any fruits or vegetables purchased from a store should be thoroughly washed to remove all traces of herbicides and pesticides.
Signs of Parkinson’s Disease
Principal signs of Parkinson’s disease include:
- Handshaking or tremor, often in fingers or hands
- Slowed movement
- Muscle stiffness or rigidity
- Impaired posture with loss of balance
- Speech changes
Paraquat Parkinson’s Disease Lawsuit
Though Parkinson’s disease is not easily cured, a successful lawsuit could help offset the financial suffering that can follow the affliction. A successful lawsuit might also help get Paraquat removed from the market, and hence save others from the tragedy of a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. For the afflicted, medications are often required for the remainder of a patient’s life. Some Parkinson’s patients are now turning to brain surgery, which can also be exorbitantly expensive, even if one is fully insured.