Paraquat is a popular herbicide used extensively throughout the United States to kill weeds since its introduction on the market in the early 1960s. In 2017, 11 million pounds of paraquat were used in the U.S. and the numbers keep growing. Global sales of paraquat in 2019 were approximately $10.5 billion dollars. Due to its toxicity, paraquat has been banned in many countries, including Brazil, China and the European Union, but it continues to be sold in the U.S. The chemical has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s Disease in those exposed to it.
Paraquat is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a “restricted use pesticide,” which is used by no-till farmers, road crews and others to kill weeds. It is also used as a desiccant for tobacco and cotton. It is poisonous and just a small sip can be fatal. Studies over the past two decades indicate a strong causal link between exposure to paraquat and the subsequent development of Parkinson’s Disease. Researchers often use an injection of paraquat in mice or other animals to provoke Parkinsonism in them in the lab so that the disease can be studied.
Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder for which there is no cure. Symptoms include tremors, muscle rigidity, slow movements, poor balance, trouble walking and other neurological problems. Paraquat crosses the blood brain barrier to cause oxidative stress in brain cells, damaging the mitochondria and ultimately resulting in the death of dopamine neurons and nerve cells in the substantia nigra pars compacta region of the brain.
Herbicides containing paraquat include the following, although this is not an extensive list:
Cyclone SL 2.0
The companies that produced and sold paraquat are facing a large number of lawsuits by those who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease as a result of being exposed to the herbicide. Claims will proceed in a multidistrict litigation docket in the Southern District of Illinois, according to the June 7, 2021 order released by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which appointed Hon. Nancy J. Rosenstengel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to oversee the coordinated docket. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and were exposed to paraquat, please contact us for a free case evaluation.
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