Can Paraquat Exposure Cause Brain Damage, Dementia and potentially Parkinson’s Disease?

One of the most widely used weed killers in the world, paraquat has recently drawn criticism for its potential link to Parkinson’s disease (PD). Lawsuits by thousands of farmers, agricultural workers, and others exposed to paraquat claim it caused them to develop the incurable brain disorder. PD symptoms can include shaking, fatigue, difficulty walking and talking, memory problems, and even dementia.

Paraquat manufacturer Syngenta (along with its corporate predecessors) has long defended the chemical’s safety. An October 2022 Guardian report, however, revealed that the company appears to have known about paraquat’s potential neurological dangers for decades. In addition, when internal research showed negative effects of paraquat on brain tissue, Syngenta apparently withheld that information from regulators while downplaying similar findings by independent scientists.

What is Paraquat?

Paraquat is an herbicide that effectively kills weeds and grasses in agricultural settings around the world. In the United States, it is used on wheat, corn, soy, and cotton fields, as well as orchards, livestock pastures, and elsewhere. First introduced for commercial applications in 1961, paraquat use in the U.S. nearly tripled between 2009 and 2019. As weeds have become more resistant to glyphosate — an herbicide at the heart of thousands of Roundup lawsuits — paraquat’s popularity has grown. Commonly sold under the brand name Gramoxone, paraquat is an ingredient in a number of products including Firestorm, Helmquat, Parazone, and others.

Does Paraquat cause Parkinson’s Disease?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paraquat is so poisonous that “one small accidental sip can be fatal.” Due to the herbicide’s high toxicity — exposure can occur through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact — dozens of countries ban its use. In the U.S., paraquat is a “restricted use pesticide,” meaning only certified users can apply it. Even if a person survives initial paraquat poisoning, long-term effects may occur, including lung damage, kidney failure, heart failure, and scarring of the esophagus.

In recent years, pesticide injury lawsuits have also claimed that chronic exposure to paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease. Although some scientific studies have found no link, several others have concluded that paraquat exposure is associated with an elevated risk of developing the neurological disorder. In fact, the American Parkinson Disease Association called paraquat “the chemical with the most data linking it to an increased PD risk” and suggested that people consider limiting their exposure to the herbicide.

Can I File a Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuit?

Paraquat lawsuits allege that manufacturers — including Syngenta and Chevron — knew about the potential dangers of PD but did nothing to warn consumers. If you were exposed to paraquat and later developed Parkinson’s, you could be entitled to financial compensation. People who may qualify to file a paraquat lawsuit include the following:

  • Agricultural workers including farmers, crop dusters, tank fillers, and crop pickers
  • Factory employees and others who worked around commercial weed killers and pesticides
  • Anyone who lived on or near land sprayed with paraquat

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you recover funds for medical bills, lost income, disability, and pain and suffering. The attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP have been helping people harmed by dangerous chemicals and other defective products for over 50 years. Contact us today to see if you qualify for a paraquat injury lawsuit.


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