Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease Attorneys
Are you suffering from Parkinson’s disease? Did you work on a farm or live or work near a farm where the herbicide paraquat was sprayed? Studies have linked exposure to paraquat to the development of Parkinson’s disease. If you were exposed to paraquat and developed this debilitating condition, you could be owed significant compensation from the pesticide’s manufacturer.
Paraquat is an herbicide that is widely used throughout the United States, primarily to control weeds in agricultural crops. Unfortunately, paraquat is also highly toxic. General exposure to the chemical may result in significant health issues. A growing body of research has linked the chemical to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Manufacturers tout the chemical’s effectiveness and cheap price, but what is the price of your health? At Spiros Law, P.C., we are committed to helping victims exposed to paraquat hold manufacturers and distributors accountable for their negligent actions. Victims who have been exposed to the toxic substance and now suffer serious health complications deserve compensation for their injuries.
If you developed Parkinson’s disease due to paraquat exposure, the product liability lawyers at Spiros Law, P.C. will be ready to help. Contact us today by calling (815) 929-9292 or reach out to us online for a free consultation to find out what you might be owed.
What Is Paraquat?
Paraquat, also sometimes known as Gramoxone, is a highly toxic chemical that is used predominantly as an herbicide for weed control. The chemical is generally available in a liquid state, and applicators are used to spray the liquid onto crops and plants to help keep fields weed-free. These liquid particles can remain airborne for a time before they fall and settle onto the land.
Due to its significant toxicity, the Environmental Protection Agency has classified the use of this particular herbicide as “restricted.” That means that only specialized individuals who are licensed and trained may purchase and apply the chemical.
How is Paraquat Used in the United States?
Paraquat was not widely used as an herbicide until the 1950s and 1960s, although it was first discovered back in 1882. It quickly gained traction under President Nixon in the 1970s when the United States government provided the chemical to the Mexican government. “Operation Clearview” was an attempt by the U.S. government to use paraquat to kill drug crops like poppy and marijuana in Mexico.
The use of paraquat as a drug control tool continued into the 1980s when the Reagan Administration began using it to spray marijuana crops in Georgia. Lawsuits against the practice halted its use until 1988. In the 1990s, its use against drugs was terminated.
Today paraquat is still a widely used herbicide here in the United States because it has remained fairly inexpensive. The Environmental Protection Agency lists paraquat as one of the most popular herbicides in use across the U.S. The United States Geological Survey shows heavy use of the chemical in both Texas and California. The mid-section of the county, such as Kansas and into Nebraska, as well as the Southern United States, such as Georgia, also heavily relies on the chemical.
Soybean crops orchards tend to be the most treated crops. Cotton fields are also decimated by the herbicide in order to help remove the plant’s foliage, prevent re-growth, and open up the cotton bolls to make the cotton easier to harvest. Despite its popularity in the U.S., the toxicity and harmful effects of the herbicide led the European Union to ban the chemical in 2007. The EU noted that the chemical was too dangerous for farmers to use, even if they were wearing proper protective gear.
Who Might Be Exposed to Paraquat?
Although originally used to try and curtail the growing Mexican drug market and subsequent drug flow into the U.S., paraquat didn’t kill all the marijuana fields. Farmers dependent on the income the plants generated would harvest and sell the marijuana treated with paraquat.
One study conducted in 1978 found that at least 21 percent of marijuana samples collected from the southern U.S. were found to be tainted with paraquat. Those who smoked marijuana inhaled the chemical into their lungs and were exposed to its effects.
Today, it is typically farming workers and their families who are exposed to the toxic effects of paraquat. Those licensed to apply the chemical to fields and crops are most at risk for toxic exposure. Those living or working near large fields that apply the herbicide may also be at risk as the wind can blow the chemical towards nearby homes.
While paraquat poisoning is lethal when the liquid is swallowed, it can also produce toxic effects by inhalation of the chemical, skin contact, and when ingested through contaminated food or water.
Acute Signs of Paraquat Exposure
Just one small sip of paraquat is lethal, according to the EPA, and there is no known antidote to counter the effects of the chemical. However, skin exposure, inhalation, and eating contaminated food can also produce severe physical reactions. Ingesting a small portion of the chemical can cause immediate burning, stinging, pain, and swelling in the mouth and throat. Once it hits the stomach, it can cause significant nausea, vomiting, pain, cramps, and bloody diarrhea.
Other symptoms of exposure can take several days to weeks to manifest. These symptoms may include:
- Heart failure
- Liver failure
- Kidney failure
- Scarring of the lungs
- Difficulty breathing and respiratory distress
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle weakness
- Pulmonary edema
Side Effects of Chronic Paraquat Exposure and Links to Parkinson’s Disease
In addition to the immediate impact of paraquat exposure, chronic or long-term exposure to the chemical can cause other significant medical conditions. These conditions can impact a victim’s quality of life, financial situation, emotional well-being, and life expectancy. These conditions can include:
- Heart failure
- Lung scarring
- Kidney failure
- Esophageal scaring
Studies have also found a link between paraquat and an increased risk of an exposed victim developing Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects the brain and the central nervous system and how they communicate with the rest of the body.
Parkinson’s disease impacts neurons in the brain, causing them to break down and eventually even die. Neurons produce a chemical called dopamine, which is the body’s chemical messenger. Dopamine helps control muscles and emotional responses, impacting both movement and vital brain functions such as mood, sleep, and memory.
Symptoms of the disease appear gradually and may seem mild. Over time the disease progresses, and the body continues to degenerate. Parkinson’s victims may eventually become unable to walk, speak, move, and may experience delusions or hallucinations. Some medications have been shown to help slow the disease’s progression, but there is no cure. Signs and symptoms of the disease include:
- Bradykinesia (slowed movements)
- Stiff or rigid muscles
- Balance problems
- Loss of automatic movements such as blinking
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty thinking
- Changes in mood
- Issues swallowing
- Insomnia or sleep problems
How does paraquat exposure play into the increased risk of Parkinson’s? It is known that paraquat works in weeds by breaking down the bonds between oxygen atoms. Once these oxygen atoms are freed from the molecules of living cells, those cells are essentially destroyed in the process. This results in plant death.
Scientists believe that when mammals and humans are exposed to the chemical paraquat, it causes damage to an area of the brain called the substantia nigra pars compacta. The damage leads to a reduction of those crucial dopamine-creating cells, the neurons.
We Help Those Who Were Exposed to Paraquat
A study conducted by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has found that the cost of Parkinson’s disease on individuals, families, and the U.S. government totals $51.9 billion every year. One study suggests that, for patients with insurance, the cost of treating Parkinson’s disease can range from $2,500 to $44,862 per year, depending on the progression of the disease. Is that money that you, the victim, should have to spend?
There is no doubt paraquat is toxic, even lethal. Victims who have been exposed to the chemical and have suffered ill health, as a result, may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. However, holding negligent manufacturers and distributors accountable can be difficult. Often, victims up against a major company or entity feel overwhelmed and daunted by the challenge.
An experienced attorney can take on the burden of holding these companies responsible for their actions and recovering compensation for victims in need. At Spiros Law, P.C., we have a skilled team of product liability attorneys with the time and the resources to go up against large, well-funded organizations, such as chemical manufacturers and distributors. Victims deserve to be compensated for their medical expenses, loss of income, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
Contact an Experienced Product Liability Attorney Today
If you or a family member have been exposed to the chemical paraquat and have developed Parkinson’s disease, you may be entitled to compensation. Don’t wait to get the help you need and deserve. Consult an experienced product liability attorney with Spiros Law, P.C. today, and find out if you have a case against the makers of paraquat. Dial (815) 929-9292 to speak with someone today about your legal rights and what we can do to help you get the money you deserve.