Who is at Risk for Paraquat Exposure?

Who is at Risk for Paraquat Exposure?
Who is at Risk for Paraquat Exposure?

Exposure to the toxic chemical paraquat can result in devastating health outcomes for anyone who inhales, absorbs, or ingests the herbicide. Studies have connected long-term exposure to paraquat to conditions like Parkinson’s disease. A wave of product liability lawsuits claims makers of paraquat were negligent for allowing their products to be sold without warning labels. Plaintiffs mostly work in the agricultural industry, but they are not the only ones at risk of being exposed to paraquat.

Understanding your risk of exposure can be helpful in determining whether or not you may have a paraquat product liability claim. For a more detailed description of the criteria for filing a product liability claim to recover damages, you should speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer. You can schedule a free consultation with our paraquat Parkinson's lawyers to learn more about how our services can benefit you as you seek compensation for your damages.

Highly Toxic Herbicide Paraquat is Linked to Serious Health Conditions 

Paraquat is a controversial commercial weed killer that appears to cause a variety of life-threatening health issues, including:

The primary focus of many of the product liability lawsuits is paraquat’s causal relationship with Parkinson’s disease. It is believed that when someone is repeatedly exposed to paraquat, the toxins can harm certain types of brain cells that are tasked with producing dopamine. When these cells are damaged and die, the brain can't produce enough dopamine. Decreased levels of dopamine can lead to Parkinson’s disease. 

Parkinson’s disease often begins with a tremor in the hand, but over time it progresses. People with Parkinson’s disease often experience stiff muscles which slow their movement and impact balance. They may also have insomnia, constipation, and loss of smell. In later stages, Parkinson’s patients may no longer have control over automatic motor skills, like blinking, and may have trouble with speech. 

Paraquat is Still in Use in the United States

Despite the growing body of evidence connecting paraquat exposure to conditions like Parkinson’s, paraquat is still used as a weed killer in agricultural operations across the U.S. States like California, a major user of paraquat, are facing increasing pressure from environmental groups and consumer advocates to ban paraquat altogether

Paraquat is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Recently, the EPA received substantial pushback from activist groups on their recent decision to reapprove the use of paraquat, even with added restrictions. Advocacy groups argued that this was insufficient in the face of mounting evidence of the dangers of paraquat exposure and filed a civil claim to appeal this decision. The EPA requested a voluntary remand from the courts to reexamine their decision approving the use of paraquat.

Who is Most at Risk for Paraquat Exposure?

Paraquat is a highly-regulated chemical that contains several additives to avoid accidental poisoning by ingestion. It is a noticeable blue color with an aromatic scent, and it contains a substance that induces vomiting when consumed. While the risk of unintentional ingestion has decreased with the addition of these elements, there is still a notable risk to people who regularly handle paraquat or live in the vicinity of agricultural operations that treat their crops with paraquat.

Paraquat Harms Farm Workers Through Repeatedly Exposure

In order to handle paraquat, you must be a licensed applicator and pass a safety evaluation. It is only available for use in commercial farming operations. As a result, farm workers are at the greatest risk of paraquat exposure, as they are the ones who most frequently handle it. Despite the precautions taken to prevent ingestion, farm workers are likely consistently absorbing paraquat through their hands and by inhaling it. Other workers who distribute paraquat, such as crop dusting pilots, may also be at an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease due to paraquat exposure.

Agricultural Communities Are at Risk of Paraquat Exposure

Beyond licensed applicators, rural communities may be inadvertently exposed to paraquat. These communities may not even realize that they are being exposed to paraquat, which is concerning because they may be less likely to identify the onset of Parkinson’s.

There are several ways that paraquat can migrate from the crops it is intended to treat. In humid conditions, herbicide drift can cause small droplets to settle outside the intended target. Herbicide overspray also presents a risk to agricultural communities. If a crop dusting pilot incorrectly anticipates a change in the wind, the paraquat they are spraying may hit other fields or locations, with no one the wiser.

Another concern is herbicide runoff, where the soil absorbs the paraquat and it leeches into the groundwater supply. Neighboring communities can be impacted if paraquat enters the water supply, as long-term exposure has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Finally, consumers and family-owned farms near larger agricultural operations may unintentionally ingest paraquat if it has contaminated food.

What Damages Can I Recover in a Paraquat Lawsuit?

A degenerative disease like Parkinson’s can rob you of your ability to work, drive, cook, and generally live independently. Product liability lawsuits give injured plaintiffs an opportunity to recover compensation for these types of losses by claiming economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages compensate plaintiffs for their financial losses. Non-economic damages recognize the value of emotional losses, or those that are difficult to quantify, such as pain.  Economic damages are typically quantified with some type of receipt, while non-economic damages are calculated by a personal injury lawyer and require different types of documentation. 

Examples of Damages in a Paraquat Parkinson’s Product Liability Lawsuit:

  • Medical bills
    • Medication 
    • Physical therapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Home health aide
    • Mobility aides
    • Home medical equipment
    • Home modifications
  • Job-related losses
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning potential
    • Missed promotions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Wrongful death

Eligibility for Compensation in a Paraquat Parkinson's Lawsuit

The paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuits fall under the category of product liability lawsuits. A product liability lawsuit can be brought as a civil claim if the maker of the harmful product was negligent in their design, or manufacturing process, or failed to warn consumers of the risk they were taking by using the product. Paraquat plaintiffs accuse the makers of paraquat of neglecting to alert consumers to the increased risk of Parkinson’s disease associated with passive exposure to paraquat.

If they are able to demonstrate that this negligent behavior qualifies as a breach of duty of care owed to them, plaintiffs will have laid the foundation for holding paraquat makers liable. However, in order to secure compensation, they must go further. The negligence of the paraquat makers must have directed resulted in the plaintiffs’ injuries, such as Parkinson’s disease. Finally, plaintiffs are responsible for showing that their injuries produced the damages they are seeking compensation for in their product liability claim.

The process of filing a mass tort product liability lawsuit is often fraught with obstacles. Trying to file a claim on your own may leave you overwhelmed by paperwork and disappointed with the outcome. Representatives for the defendants may attempt to undermine your claim, like the Chevron representatives who are accused of unfairly influencing expert witnesses.  In order to safeguard your right to pursue compensation, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer about your potential paraquat Parkinson’s claim.