The Hidden Dangers of Paraquat: What You Need to Know
Paraquat is a weedkiller. It is an inexpensive herbicide that American farmers have used since the 1960s. In recent years, paraquat has increased in popularity because of its low cost and effectiveness compared to other herbicides.
The Use of Paraquat as an Herbicide in the United States
Paraquat is only available for use by commercially licensed users. It is a highly toxic chemical that is poisonous. Because paraquat is very dangerous, users must be trained and certified through an EPA-approved training program before using paraquat to control weeds.
Agricultural laborers and farmers are at the highest risk of paraquat exposure. However, anyone living near a farm that uses paraquat could be at risk for paraquat exposure. Paraquat is toxic in even small doses, and there is no known antidote.
Although herbicide manufacturers have added safety measures to prevent paraquat from being accidentally swallowed, there have been at least 17 deaths nationwide since 2000. The safety measures include adding a sharp odor, blue dye, and a vomit-inducing agent to the chemical. However, paraquat purchased outside of the United States may not have these safety features, making exposure from accidental ingestion a higher risk.
If ingested, the paraquat causes immediate damage to the lining of the stomach, mouth, and intestines. In addition, it causes toxic chemical reactions in many of the internal organs. When inhaled, paraquat can cause lung damage. It can also be absorbed through the skin.
Paraquat is used throughout the country on farms, orchards, plantations, and estates. It is sold under the brand names Ortho Paraquat and Gramoxone. Paraquat is a common alternative for killing weeds when the weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, the ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.
Paraquat Linked to an Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
Paraquat has also been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. The NIH states that people who used paraquat developed Parkinson’s disease 2.5 times more often than people who were not exposed to paraquat.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that has no cure. It impacts a person’s ability to talk, walk, and balance. In addition, the disease causes tremors and loss of coordination.
What Are the Immediate Symptoms and Signs of Paraquat Exposure?
If someone ingests or inhales paraquat, they could develop one or more of the following side effects:
- Elevated heart rate
- Breathing difficulty, possibly resulting in death
- Muscle weakness and fatigue
- Swelling and pain in the throat and mouth
- Gastrointestinal distress, including bloody stool, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
Exposure to paraquat can also increase a person’s risk of developing multiple system atrophy, atypical Parkinson’s disease, and progressive supranuclear palsy.
Immediate medical attention is required if you ingest or inhale paraquat. Depending on your health and the amount of exposure, you could die if medical treatment is not received quickly.
Paraquat Lawsuits and Claims – Should You File a Paraquat Lawsuit?
Multiple lawsuits are pending in courts throughout the country, alleging that paraquat manufacturers failed to provide adequate protection to the risk of exposure. Plaintiffs allege that even though the warning label for paraquat states that you should not ingest the chemical, the label does not warn of the risk of Parkinson’s disease or other risks associated with exposure to paraquat.
Workers diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seek compensation for their damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and permanent disability.
How do I know if I need to file a paraquat lawsuit or claim? The best way to determine if you are eligible to file a paraquat lawsuit is to speak with a paraquat lawsuit attorney. An attorney can evaluate your claim to provide an assessment of your claim and whether the facts support a paraquat claim.
It can be difficult to prove exposure to paraquat in some cases. If you worked on a commercial farm, estate, or orchard that used paraquat to control weeds, there is a good chance that you were exposed. However, if you live next door to one of these properties, it could be more difficult to prove that paraquat exposure caused your diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Because there are deadlines for filing paraquat lawsuits and claims, it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible. If you are unsure whether you were exposed to paraquat, contact a lawyer to discuss your situation. It is better to err on the side of caution than to wait until it is too late to file a paraquat lawsuit.