By Treven Pyles
Posted on March 12th, 2021
Sustained use of agricultural chemicals such as paraquat puts farmworkers at serious risk for a wide range of adverse health effects. If you have been exposed to the herbicide paraquat as a farmworker and were subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, you may be eligible to file a claim to recover financial compensation.
Over 1.1 billion pounds of agricultural chemicals are used annually in the United States, and pesticide exposures on non-residential farms cause thousands of illnesses every year. U.S. farmworkers currently use more than 8 million pounds of paraquat annually on more than 100 types of crops, including row crops, orchards, fruits, and vegetables.
Because it is extremely toxic, paraquat is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a restricted-use product and is not available to the general public legally; only occupational pesticide users who have undergone specialized training in applying the chemical may use it.
Farmworkers have been designated "essential workers" by the state governments, and the agriculture and food system has been designated as a critical infrastructure sector. There are approximately 3 million farmworkers in the U.S. - about two million are family farmworkers, and another one million are hired farmworkers - and their jobs are ranked among the most dangerous.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, farmworkers can be exposed to paraquat in a variety of ways, including:
EPA's Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is the primary set of federal regulations aimed at protecting farmworkers from the hazards of working with highly hazardous pesticides like paraquat. However, over a decade ago, the agency admitted that even when there is full compliance with the WPS, risks to farmworkers still exceed the level of concern.