Arizona Man sprays crops with paraquat for years; Later develops Parkinson’s disease
An Arizona man recently filed a new paraquat lawsuit against the makers of the herbicide, including Syngenta AG and Chevron USA, Inc. He claims that after years of applying paraquat to crops, he has developed Parkinson’s disease. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, where all federally filed paraquat lawsuits were centralized in June 2021.
Claimant claims long-term exposure to paraquat resulted in Parkinson’s disease
According to his complaint, the plaintiff was repeatedly exposed to and inhaled, ingested, or absorbed paraquat during the application of paraquat products to crops during the summer growing season on a 150-acre farm in Shelby County. , Iowa. He applied these products between 1969 and 1973.
After this repeated and constant exposure to paraquat, the plaintiff began to suffer from neurological damage consistent with Parkinson’s disease. He was later diagnosed with the disease in 2004. His injuries continued to progress over time and he will continue to suffer from them in the future.
Prior to the year 2021, the applicant claims that he was unaware of the association between Parkinson’s disease and exposure to paraquat or paraquat products. No doctor or anyone else told him that his injuries were or could be caused by the herbicide.
It reports counts of design flaws, warning failures, negligence, and breaches of warranties.
Paraquat is highly toxic to plant, animal and human cells
Paraquat is used in the United States to kill broadleaf weeds and grasses before planting or emergence of more than 100 fields, fruits, vegetables and plantation crops, to control weeds in orchards and to desiccate (dry) plants before harvest.
Applicators typically use knapsack sprayers, hand-held sprayers, airplanes (spreaders), trucks with attached pressure tanks, and tractor-drawn pressure tanks to apply paraquat products. Although applicators must be certified in the safe use of paraquat, it can still be absorbed through small droplets that are swallowed or inhaled, or through exposure to the skin.
Paraquat is highly toxic to plants and animals because it causes and contributes to the degeneration and death of living cells by oxidative stress. It sets off a chain reaction so that even a single molecule of paraquat can trigger the production of countless destructive molecules that can cause long term damage.
These properties make paraquat also toxic to dopaminergic neurons, those neurons that are targeted in Parkinson’s disease. The herbicide is so effective at causing this damage that scientists are using it on laboratory animals to artificially produce conditions that exhibit hallmark features of Parkinson’s disease.
Studies suggest that long-term exposure to paraquat increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease
Several studies have linked paraquat exposure to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. In 2018, researchers found that low exposure to pesticides like paraquat and maneb disrupted cells in a way that mimicked the effects of mutations known to cause PD. Adding the effects of these chemicals to a predisposition to PD — in people at genetic risk for the disease, for example — increased the risk of disease onset.
In 2019, researchers conducted a systematic review of the literature and found that the occurrence of PD was 25% higher in participants exposed to paraquat. Results from a subgroup analysis also indicated a higher frequency of PM in those who were exposed to the herbicide for longer periods.
Those who were exposed to paraquat and later developed Parkinson’s disease may be eligible to file a lawsuit against paraquat. Several people have already done so, with this legal proceeding in the Southern District of Illinois.