A popular weedkiller linked to Parkinson’s disease is the subject of thousands of lawsuits across the country. Paraquat is so toxic that one sip can kill, and the EPA tightly regulates its use. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that paraquat can also damage cells in the brain and might lead to Parkinson’s disease. Lawsuits claim that farmers and agricultural workers were never warned of this risk. Paraquat is widely used across Ohio on crops like corn and soybeans. If you worked in agriculture, used paraquat, and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, you may be eligible for a paraquat lawsuit.
The Parkinson’s “Pandemic” and Its Link to Paraquat
The world is in the grip of what experts are calling a Parkinson’s “pandemic.” Parkinson’s is the fastest-growing neurological condition on the planet. Its prevalence has grown by leaps and bounds and continues to accelerate. Some have predicted that the number of cases will increase from 6.5 million in 2020 to more than 13 million by 2040. Industrial chemicals—including herbicides like paraquat—are blamed.
Paraquat is applied to a wide variety of crops but is primarily used on soybeans and corn—Ohio’s two largest cash crops. Numerous studies have showed that paraquat users have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
While paraquat is deadly in high doses, low-level exposure over time may have serious health consequences as well. Researchers say that paraquat is toxic to cells and can damage a certain area of the brain that is involved in Parkinson’s disease. One recent study found that people exposed to paraquat have a 250 percent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s than the rest of the population. These findings are consistent with government-backed research from 2011 that showed paraquat users are 2.5 more likely than non-users to develop Parkinson’s.
Scientists have observed for many years that farmers—and people living near agricultural areas—have a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s. Ohio has one of the highest Parkinson’s prevalence rates in the country; an estimated 30,000 Ohioans are suffering from the neurological condition.
Ohio, perhaps not coincidentally, also has high rates of agricultural paraquat use. Paraquat is applied to a wide variety of crops but is primarily used on soybeans and corn—Ohio’s two largest cash crops. Products containing paraquat are sold under many trade names, including Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat, and Parazone.
Lawsuits Claim Manufacturers Failed to Warn about Paraquat and Parkinson’s
Although the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s has been scientifically observed for more than three decades, Syngenta, the company that makes paraquat, has not updated product warnings to reflect this possible side effect. According to the Paraquat Information Center, a Syngenta website, there is not enough evidence to support a causal association between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease.
It’s worth noting, though, this is the same line taken by Bayer in Roundup weedkiller lawsuits that ended up settling for more than $10 billion. In fact, big companies like Syngenta almost always deny that their products are dangerous and say that the science supporting such claims is unsound. Usually, these debates are hashed out in the courts, which is what’s happening with paraquat lawsuits.
Approximately 2,000 paraquat lawsuits (and counting) have been centralized in federal court. The first trial is set for mid-2023. Farmers and agricultural workers say that Syngenta failed to warn about the association between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, and that, had they known of this risk, they would not have used paraquat, or would have taken additional precautions to prevent exposure.
Anyone who meets the following criteria may be eligible to file a paraquat lawsuit and recover compensation:
- Has been diagnosed by a doctor with Parkinson’s disease
- Was exposed to paraquat in an agricultural setting (for example, farmers and farm workers who mixed, loaded, and applied paraquat to crops)
- Was repeatedly exposed to paraquat (e.g., inhaled, ingested, and absorbed paraquat while mixing, loading, and spraying the herbicide) over a period of years
There is no cure for Parkinson’s, and the costs of living with the condition can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars per year. A lawsuit can help to pay for these costs and hold Syngenta accountable. If you meet the above criteria and think you might have a case, the next step is to speak with a personal injury lawyer at Graham & Graham.