You may have heard about paraquat, the herbicide used primarily for weed and grass control. But what you may not know is that researchers have discovered a link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. Keep reading to find out why it’s so dangerous, and how you know if you’ve been affected from unhealthy paraquat exposure.
Does Paraquat Cause Parkinson’s Disease?
Paraquat is one of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States. Also known as “Gramoxone,” it’s used to control grass growth and weeds in various crops, including vegetables, soybeans, peanuts, sugarcane, cotton, and more. However, it’s a highly toxic chemical and can cause fatal poisoning when inhaled or ingested.
Scientific research has suggested that paraquat usage greatly increases the risk of health problems, including Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative condition that affects movement in the body. Because the research is relatively recent, studies have not yet established a definitive causal link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s, but it has shown that farm workers exposed to paraquat had double the risk of developing the disease.
Paraquat can be dangerous not just to the people who work in agriculture, but also to the people who eat the foods treated with paraquat, since there can be some residue left over on fruits and vegetables. It’s also thought that frequent exposure to paraquat may damage brain cells and lead to kidney failure, heart failure, lung scarring, and liver failure.
How to Tell If You’ve Been Affected by Paraquat Exposure
If you’ve been exposed to paraquat, it’s extremely important to meet with your physician as soon as possible. Even ingesting small amounts of paraquat can lead to fatal poisoning, and it only takes weeks‚ and sometimes even days, before an afflicted person may experience lung scarring, respiratory failure, and/or organ failure.
Because Paraquat poisoning is a quick process, some symptoms can develop immediately, including swelling and pain in the mouth and throat. Other symptoms that may follow soon after — within several hours to several days — include:
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
- Rigid or weakened muscles
- Impaired posture and balance
- Loss of automatic movements
- Speech and writing changes
- Abdominal pain
- Respiratory failure and difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
Paraquat in the News
Because of the health problems thought to be caused by paraquat exposure, more than 40 countries have committed to phasing out the herbicide, including China, a country not usually known for its strict environmental regulations. One report even demonstrates the positive health effects that some of these countries have shown in relation to stricter paraquat regulations.
As far as the United States goes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has maintained that paraquat is safe when used properly. However, in the US, herbicides and pesticides must endure review by the EPA every 15 years — and paraquat was recently up for review again. The EPA has until October 2022 to make a decision on its future use.
In the meantime, Representative Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) has introduced the Protect Against Paraquat Act of 2019 (HR 3817), which seeks to eliminate the use of paraquat in the United States. Having a bill introduced in Congress is a crucial step in educating representatives about the dangers of paraquat, and therefore to protect the health of so many people.
Personal Injury Lawyers Who Care About Your Case
At The Lopez Law Group, our personal injury lawyers proudly serve the Weslaco, Tyler, Spring, Mission, McAllen, Laredo, Houston, Edinburg, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, and Harlingen areas. If you’re in need of a mass tort litigation lawyer to represent you in a paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuit, we are here to offer the legal counsel and support you need.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll help you decide the next best steps in your case so that you can focus on the path to healing.