What You Need to Know About Paraquat
Do you have questions about Paraquat exposure, the health implications of this chemical or your potential claim? Find the answers to frequently asked questions below.
Paraquat is a deadly toxin that can be introduced into the body through ingestion (swallowing), dermal contact (skin abrasions/cuts or a rash) or inhalation (breathing in vapor or droplets). Swallowing as little as one teaspoon is likely to kill an adult. Death or permanent impairment from this kind of acute poisoning is caused by Paraquat damaging the lungs, liver, heart or kidneys. There is no antidote and, depending on the dosage, death from Paraquat poisoning can occur in hours or weeks from heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure or pneumonia from lung damage. A person who survives may experience permanent damage to any of these organs.
Along with the acute poisoning described above, medical studies have shown that lower-levels of Paraquat exposure over time may cause chronic and serious health conditions including Parkinsonʼs disease and kidney failure, which can result in end stage renal disease. This is the type of pesticide exposure seen in pesticide applicators, their immediate family, and bystanders exposed to pesticide application.
Parkinsonʼs is called a “neurodegenerative” disease. To understand what this means it may help to briefly look at our entire nervous system. This system consists of our “central nervous system” and our “peripheral nervous system.” Our central nervous system is simply the brain and the spinal cord. Our brain sends and receives nerve impulses. Our spinal cord sends those nerve impulses to and from various parts of the body.
Our peripheral nervous system is everything else, including nerves of our hands and our feet and everything in between. These “peripheral nerves” give us our ability to feel and touch (sensory nerves) and our ability to move (motor nerves). The nerve impulses that create all this activity travel in pathways that run to and from the brain throughout the body, conducted by a chemical — a “neurotransmitter” — called dopamine.
Parkinsonʼs is a disease of the brain where nerves that control movement — motor neurons – are damaged or die. This causes reduced amounts of the neurotransmitter, dopamine. This causes nerve signals to become weak and erratic. As a result, movement, balance and control of our body are impaired. This is Parkinsonʼs Disease.
Parkinson’s is not considered fatal, but it is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time. This progression can take years to develop. While there is a great amount of variation in the disease from person to person, Parkinson’s typically has five recognized “stages”:
Stage 1: At the onset, Parkinson’s can show up on one side of the body, often as a mild tremor or shakiness in a hand at rest. Changes in posture, walking and facial expressions may occur. Daily activities are generally unaffected.
Stage 2: At this stage movement and tremors can affect both sides of the body. Walking and poor posture, often a forward stoop, become more apparent. Daily activities can take longer and are more difficult.
Stage 3: This mid-stage shows slowed movement and loss of balance. Falls are common. The person can still live independently, but activities such as dressing and eating are significantly impaired.
Stage 4: Symptoms at this stage are severe and limiting. Standing may be possible but movement may require a walker. Help is needed with daily activities and the person can no longer live alone.
Stage 5: At this stage rigidity in the legs can make standing impossible and the person may be confined to a wheelchair or bedridden. Continuous nursing care is required for all activities. The person may experience confusion, delusions and hallucinations. This stage is most debilitating and may never be reached by every people with Parkinson’s.
DIAGNOSIS + TREATMENT
There is no laboratory or blood test to determine whether a person has Parkinson’s. Diagnosis is a combination of symptoms and family history (genetics). Beyond family history, Parkinson’s is largely caused by environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins like paraquat.
While Parkinson’s has no cure, there are medical treatments, including drugs and even surgery, which can relieve some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Like Parkinson’s Disease, which is far more common, MS and ALS are also neurodegenerative conditions. While there are some similarities, these are significantly different diseases with different diagnoses, different progressions and different outcomes. None of these diseases are curable.
End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is a life-threatening condition that requires dialysis or kidney transplant for survival. In medical terminology, “renal” means kidney. Another medical term, “nephro,” also means kidney. For example, a nephrologist is a kidney doctor. And “nephrotoxicity” means damage to kidneys from poison, as in what happens when a person is exposed to a toxin such as paraquat. Kidneys are vital organs whose primary function is removing waste products from the body. The kidneys also control the body’s fluid balance and release hormones that regulate blood pressure and the production of red blood cells. Healthy kidneys have far greater ability to perform these functions than the body needs. This is why a healthy person can safely donate a kidney with no ill effects. However, kidneys are also subject to disease and damage. Kidney disease is often progressive but may take place slowly and silently over years without a person noticing any symptoms.
In the United States chronic kidney disease (CKD) is common, affecting about 15% of the population. Many people do not know they have it. The most common cause of kidney disease is diabetes. Medical studies have shown that long-term exposure to pesticides such as paraquat, by both applicators and their spouses, is significantly linked to kidney disease and kidney failure. This is particularly true for people who have had medical treatment at any time due to exposure to paraquat.
Symptoms & Diagnosis
Kidney disease often progresses slowly and symptoms may not show up until late in the disease. Also, symptoms that do show up can be caused by many other illnesses and are not reliable indicators of kidney problems. There are two primary lab tests for kidney function. The simplest test, the ACR (Albumin to Creatinine Ratio) looks for a protein in the urine that may indicate kidney disease. The other test, the GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate) is a blood test that determines how well your kidneys are functioning. If you have kidney disease, the GFR will determine the stage of your kidney disease. A GFR number over 60 is normal. A GFR of less than 15 is the most severe level, called Stage 5, kidney failure. At this stage the kidneys are no longer able to adequately remove waste, and fluids build up in the body. Symptoms include nausea, fatigue and tissue swelling.
End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is the stage at which kidney disease is fatal without regular dialysis or kidney transplant.
Paraquat is an agricultural herbicide that rapidly kills any plant that it contacts. For this reason paraquat is called a non-selective herbicide. Paraquat is used to eliminate unwanted plants (weeds), which it kills by shutting down a plant’s leaf growth mechanism (photosynthesis) while leaving the roots intact (which reduces soil erosion).
List of some, but not all, manufacturers of Paraquat:
ALTITUDE CROP INNOVATIONS LLC
1800 FALL RIVER DR STE 100
LOVELAND CO 80538
AMVAC CHEMICAL CORPORATION
4695 MACARTHUR COURT STE 1200
NEWPORT BEACH CA 92660
5000 CENTREGREEN WAY STE 100
CARY NC 27513
245 FREIGHT ST
WATERBURY CT 06702
DREXEL CHEMICAL COMPANY
PO BOX 13327
MEMPHIS TN 38113-0327
HELENA AGRI-ENTERPRISES LLC
225 SCHILLING BLVD STE 300
COLLIERVILLE TN 38017
HELM AGRO US INC
401 E JACKSON ST STE 1400
TAMPA FL 33602
INNVICTIS CROP CARE LLC
1880 FALL RIVER DR STE 100
LOVELAND CO 80538
LOVELAND PRODUCTS INC
3005 ROCKY MOUNTAIN
GREELEY CO 80632
REDEAGLE INTERNATIONAL LLC
5143 S LAKELAND DR STE 4
LAKELAND FL 33813
SHARDA CROPCHEM LTD
7217 LANCASTER PIKE STE A
HOCKESSIN DE 19707
SHARDA USA LLC
PO BOX 640
HOCKESSIN DE 19707
SOURCE DYNAMICS LLC
7364 E REDHAWK ST
MESA AZ 85207
SYNGENTA CROP PROTECTION LLC
PO BOX 18300
GREENSBORO NC 27419-8300
5000 CENTREGREEN WAY STE 100
CARY NC 27513
1887 WHITNEY MESA DR STE 9740
HENDERSON NV 89014
Various trade names include:
Bai Cao Ku
Cyclone SL 2.0
Ortho Paraquat CL
There may be additional brands that contain Paraquat.
Yes. At least 37 countries around the world have banned the use of Paraquat.
Paraquat use is banned in all 27 countries in the European Union. Paraquat use is also banned by countries in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia), the Middle East (Kuwait, Syria), and Central and South America (Costa Rica, Columbia, Brazil). China, the largest single manufacturer/exporter of paraquat in the world (producing more that 100,000 tons of Paraquat per year) banned the use of Paraquat in their county in February 2020.
Currently there are bills in front of the House (HR7940) and the Senate (S4406) that would expressly ban the use of Paraquat. Both bills discuss the hazards of paraquat, asserting that paraquat causes both Parkinson’s disease and kidney failure. To date, the EPAs position is that paraquat should be subject to more strict regulation including a ban on backpack application, eliminating all aerial application of paraquat except cotton and requiring enclosed cabs and/or PF10 respirators in ground application.
Not legally, even by licensed applicators. Paraquat warning labels required by the EPA state “Do not use around home gardens, schools, recreational parks, golf courses or playgrounds.”
Please call Jeff Link Law directly in Des Moines, IA at (515) 489-0006 or toll free at (844) 752-6224. We would like to talk to you about your case and answer any questions you may have. Please bear in mind that ANY information you discuss with us, including your name, employment and medical history or records, is completely confidential and will not be released to anyone outside the law firms associated with this website before the filing of any lawsuit.
Mikal Watts, Jeff Link, Dan Homolka, and Gary Mauro through their independent law firms worked together to represent tens of thousands of corn growers nationwide in litigation against Syngenta Seed for their role in harming the market price of corn beginning in 2013. Farmers lost significant amounts of money due to Syngenta Seed’s negligence, but resolution of the case resulted in Syngenta paying corn growers a $1.5 billion settlement. Any statement of past results of Counsel does not guarantee similar results in your claims.
Any pesticide/herbicide applicator who has worked with any form of Paraquat may be eligible. Applicators who have followed recommended safety guidelines may still be at risk for developing Parkinson’s disease or kidney failure from repeated exposure to even low levels of Paraquat.
Medical studies have shown that laundering, cleaning and maintenance of an applicator’s clothing or equipment may cause the same Paraquat exposure — and potentially the same health issues — as the Paraquat exposure to the applicator.
If you or someone you live with have been exposed to Paraquat, you might be eligible to join our lawsuit.