Working in agriculture in the United States is not without danger, as many workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals that can lead to debilitating and life-threatening diseases. Exposure to one particular chemical, the extensively studied and well-known herbicide Paraquat, has been linked to a significant rise in Parkinson’s disease cases among workers in the industry. Paraquat has a well-documented history of health dangers but continues to be manufactured, sold, and regularly used in the agriculture industry in the United States, even though it has been banned in 35 countries worldwide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), around 11 million pounds of Paraquat are sprayed across American crops annually. Studies have shown since the early 2000s that Paraquat, sold under the brand names Gramozone, Ortho Paraquat, Parazone, and others, is directly linked to Parkinson’s disease – a disorder of the nervous system that leads to the deterioration of motor-function abilities, uncontrollable shakiness, and stiffness. If you or a loved one has been exposed to Paraquat and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may have a claim for financial compensation.
Studies Link Paraquat Exposure to Parkinson’s Disease
The EPA considered Paraquat to be a highly toxic substance that, when a small amount is ingested, is similar to a poison and can result in severe illness and death. There is no current antidote to Paraquat poisoning. Outside of accidental ingestion, workers can be exposed by coming into contact with plants that have been recently sprayed with the herbicide, mixing or applying the chemical, or accidentally getting it on their skin or hair. Agricultural workers and residents living in close proximity to where Paraquat has been sprayed are at especially high risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Chronic exposure increases the risk of developing the disease by 200 to 600 percent, according to the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council. The council submitted a letter to the EPA in which it urged the EPA to ban the use of Paraquat in the United States, which as of May 2021, has not happened.
Multiple scientific journals have published research that links Paraquat to the development of Parkinson’s disease, including the American Journal of Epidemiology, JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Neurology, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In a comprehensive review of medical literature relating to Paraquat, the average rate of occurrence of Parkinson’s disease was 25 percent greater in people who were exposed to the herbicide. That same review showed the longer a person is exposed to the chemical in any amount, the greater their chances of developing Parkinson’s.
A Rise in Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a life-altering condition that gets progressively worse over time and has no cure. The disease causes nerve cells in the substantia nigra portion of the brain to decrease production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. When there is not enough dopamine in the brain, a variety of unique symptoms appear that can quickly be identified as Parkinson’s disease.
Movement symptoms include:
- Muscle tremors
- Stiff limbs
- Difficulty with walking and coordination
- Difficulty standing
- Uncontrollable limb movements
- Jaw stiffness
- Reduced facial expressions
- Whole body aches
- Difficulty swallowing
Although Parkinson’s is usually considered a movement disorder, there are many cognitive and behavioral symptoms associated with the disease, including:
- Confusion or difficulty thinking
- Speech impairment
- Loss of sense of smell
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder meaning it continues to get worse over time. The disease is incurable, and symptoms will require lifelong treatment. Extensive research is being done on slowing the progression of the disease, however, there is not enough data to show that it will be possible. Parkinson’s disease will require lifetime care, which can be incredibly expensive and emotionally taxing. Many families must put their life savings into caring for a family member who has been diagnosed with the degenerative medical condition.
What Should I Do if I Was Exposed to Paraquat?
The United States has yet to ban the dangerous herbicide Paraquat, which means more agricultural laborers will be exposed to it and therefore more of them will develop Parkinson’s disease. The companies that use the chemical in their operations are putting profits above the health and safety of their workers as well as surrounding communities. It is for these reasons that injured workers and their families are starting to fight back. The best way to do this is to file a Paraquat lawsuit. Currently there are Paraquat lawsuits filed in multiple states alleging the chemical’s manufacturers failed to warn the public of the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and that their products are defective in design, on top of other claims.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to the dangerous herbicide Paraquat, and have subsequently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be able to seek compensation for your damages, including medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and the significant decline in your quality of life. Contact our offices today to discuss joining a lawsuit against Paraquat manufacturers and/or others involved in the supply chain that dangerously exposed you to this substance. There are deadlines that must be met to file lawsuits related to toxic chemical exposure and extensive investigations that must be performed. The sooner you contact the team at Dax F. Garza, P.C., the faster we can help you prove that Paraquat has caused you to develop Parkinson’s disease. Consultations are free – contact our office today to discuss your situation.