Paraquat-applying farmers diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease are eligible for compensation

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on March 12th, 2021

Farmers are usually unaware of the pesticides to which they are exposed, the health effects of such exposure, or the compensation they are entitled to if they have been adversely affected by toxic pesticides, such as paraquat. We help farmers stricken by Parkinson's disease from using paraquat seek compensation from its manufacturers.

Farmers are typically hired by commercial farms or in many cases, by contractors who coordinate labors in non-residential farms and act as intermediaries between farmers and agricultural workers. Farmers who operate farm businesses often conduct their work under grueling conditions that put their health and safety at risk:

  • they undertake some of the most challenging work: cultivating, harvesting, maintaining, packing, and planting fruits and vegetables, and handling livestock;
  • they face numerous threats to their health and safety, and pesticide exposure is among the most serious.

Farmers working on non-residential farms are regularly exposed to high levels of paraquat, one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. Even with the best management practices while handling and applying paraquat, farmers are still at risk for exposure.

Paraquat exposure and neurotoxic effects among farmers

As a farmer, you are well aware of the benefits of pesticides; but you may be less knowledgeable on the human health effects paraquat use can impose. Farmers can be exposed to paraquat in a variety of ways:

  • spills, splashes, or direct spray;
  • spray that drifts from its target;
  • contact with paraquat residues on the crop or soil;
  • defective, missing, or inadequate protective equipment.

Paraquat was designed to have a near-immediate and generally lethal effect on a wide range of annual grasses and broad-leaved weeds and the tips of established perennial weeds; but unfortunately, that is not all it can do. The use of the weed-killing agent paraquat dichloride has been linked to increased rates of Parkinson's disease in farmers with exposure to the acutely toxic herbicide.

Today, there are about 2 million commercial farms in operation in the U.S., covering an area of 922 million acres, and each year, thousands of them experience serious short- and long-term health risks from pesticide exposure.

Short-term (acute) effects may include:

  • rashes
  • blisters
  • blindness
  • headaches
  • nausea/vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • seizures
  • coma

The long-term health impacts are delayed or not immediately apparent and may include:

  • infertility
  • birth defects
  • endocrine disruption
  • neurological disorders
  • cancer

As per the studies, paraquat contains certain chemicals, exposure to which might contribute to the development of Parkinson's disease. From a medical standpoint, Parkinson's disease is caused by the death of brain cells in an area of the mid-brain known as the substantia nigra. Cell death results in losing dopamine production, which is essential for central nervous system functions. Administration of paraquat in laboratory rats has proven to cause the death of cells in the substantia nigra.

We file claims on behalf of farmers who developed Parkinson's disease from the continued use of paraquat

The economic and emotional costs of living with Parkinson's disease are very high; a person with this brain disorder spends an estimated $26,400 per year on his/her care. A large number of claims against Chevron Chemical Company, Syngenta, and other manufacturers of paraquat-based herbicides have been filed by farmers who used or were exposed to paraquat and developed Parkinson's disease.

If you have been exposed to paraquat and subsequently developed Parkinson's disease and want to ensure that you get the maximum compensation that you and your family are entitled to, it might make sense to talk with a legal expert about your situation. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. is currently reviewing cases on behalf of commercial farmers directly exposed to this dangerous product, and developed Parkinson's disease as a result. Our team of experts can help you cover reimbursement for your medical bills, lost regular wages, and pain and suffering.