Paraquat exposure and the risk of Parkinson's disease among herbicides handlers, sprayers, and applicators

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on March 12th, 2021

Pesticide/herbicide handlers, sprayers, and applicators are exposed to paraquat daily, in large quantities, and over sustained periods. Exposure to paraquat, even in relatively low doses, leads to the development of serious health conditions, including Parkinson's disease, one of the most common neurological disorders affecting us.

A rampant problem amongst the majority of herbicide applicators is exposure to toxic chemicals from pesticides sprayed onto agricultural crops in order to combat diseases and weeds as well as raising productivity. Pesticides, including paraquat, can be harmful to humans depending on the toxicity of the ingredients, length of time of exposure, and how it enters the body.

The U.S. EPA describes paraquat as a controlled or restricted use herbicide, utilized only in commercial farming and agricultural settings. Because it is a dangerous chemical, it contains a blue pigment so that it is not mistaken as a food product. Exposure can incur by ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposure. Herbicides applicators are at most risk for skin exposure or inhalation that could lead to illness. Herbicide/pesticide applicators who have been adversely affected by paraquat may be able to pursue a claim and recover compensation with the help of an experienced legal practitioner.

Paraquat exposure can result in devastating health consequences for herbicides applicators

Originally marketed in 1962 as gramoxone, paraquat has been linked to Parkinson's disease and is the target of many claims being filed by herbicide applicators.

Numerous studies and clinical research have linked paraquat to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease, and, in 2011, an analysis found that paraquat exposure increased the risk of this neurodegenerative disorder by 250% for those who work with it on a regular basis.

Herbicide applicators are those persons who directly handle pesticides, e.g. perform tasks in preparation for an application - mix a pesticide with water and load it into the knapsack. Generally, restricted-use pesticides like paraquat are to be used only by individuals licensed through state pesticide applicator certification exams and licensing requirements, although in some states unlicensed applicators are authorized to use them under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator.

Herbicide applicators can be exposed to paraquat in a variety of ways, including:

  • by handling pesticide containers;
  • having skin contact with paraquat residue;
  • when the contractor fails to provide water for workers to wash their hands and clothes.

Pesticides in concentrated form pose a greater risk to the user than do diluted products for the following reasons:

  • any product in concentration is more toxic than a dilution of the same product;
  • before the application of a concentrate, an additional step - mixing with a liquid carrier - is required, thereby, increasing the applicator's potential for exposure resulting from splashes or spills.

Moreover, herbicide applicators have no escape from exposure, as paraquat can literally follow them home after work in the form of residue on their clothes, or its drift contaminating the air in their neighborhoods.

Licensed applicators who work with paraquat on a regular basis are entitled to compensation

Despite the strong evidence linking paraquat to serious health problems such as Parkinson's disease, chemical companies continued to sell it, making hundreds of millions of dollars. These large firms were determined to hold onto this market, regardless of the adverse health effects.

We are evaluating cases for herbicide applicators with a confirmed diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and prior exposure to paraquat. If this is you, please contact our law firm today as you may be entitled to financial compensation. The legal system requires that you file a claim within a certain period of time, based on when you received your diagnosis, thus, licensed applicators who developed Parkinson's disease from the continued use of paraquat should not delay taking legal action.