Paraquat is Linked to Parkinson's Disease

Posted by Stephanie Sherman | Sep 19, 2021

September 20, 2021 - Sherman Law News

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects millions around the world. PD is triggered by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain that affects movement, and includes affects on the brain's chemical, dopamine.  PD symptoms manifest as slow or abnormal movement. 


Genetics are associated with an increased risk of PD, but more and more research is looking at environmental factors such as chemical exposure, including pesticides.  The chemical agent can penetrate the nervous system via the olfactory bulb, gut, or both and spread throughout the nervous system.  If you are diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and you do not have a family history of it, it is likely environmental.  

Paraquat is widely used and often sold under popular brand names such as Gramoxone, Parazone, and Firestorm.  Paraquat is used for crops including soybeans, vegetables, potatoes, cotton, coffee, wheat, apples, oranges, and rice. The EPA has paraquat regulations in place such as restrictions on storage and use locations and as of 2016, a Paraquat user must be certified. 

This chemical compound is so toxic that the US supply has a distinct blue color, an unpleasant odor, a vomit-inducing additive, and is only available to licensed users. Introduced in 1961, it's still one of the most commonly used herbicides today.  It is banned in countries other than the US.


There are three routes of Paraquat exposure that can lead to health problems:  1) ingestion, 2) inhalation, and 3) exposure through dermal absorption, or the skin.  Taking in contaminated food, water, and drinks are the most common types of Paraquat exposure and poisoning.

Occupational exposure is the type most likely to lead to long term effects. Agricultural workers are the highest risk group.  Other risk groups include those living and working in and near farming communities and operations. If you live in a community where Paraquat is used or sprayed, or work in a profession that puts you within range of Paraquat use, such as a postal workers, produce suppliers, or delivery drivers, you are at risk. Paraquat can drift from fields during spraying and make it onto your skin, or in your food or drink. You may also be at risk if you are a spouse of an agricultural worker who uses or is exposed to Paraquat.  


Acute poisoning requires immediate medical attention and carries a high mortality risk. It only takes a one teaspoonof paraquat to kill a person.  

Less severe exposures can still result in serious illnesses such as PD, which is treatable but not curable.  PD Symptoms include hand tremors, involuntary movements, walking difficulties, impairments in speech, mood and sleep disruptions, and toileting changes.  PD symptoms can be very debilitating. 


If you used or were exposed to Paraquat and have developed PD, you may have a cause of action for personal injury damages against the product manufacturers, Syngenta Crop Protection LLC and Chevron, USA.   A lawsuit was filed in 2021 in the US District Court of Illinois, for the Southern District of Illinois and cases filed elsewhere are being sent there for coordinated proceedings, or what's called "multi district litigation" (MDL).  The case against the defendants concerns their failure to warn users and others that exposure can cause PD. 

PD sufferers with a history of exposure to Paraquat can seek damages for economic losses including loss of wages, past and future, and medical bills, past and future.  Damages also include non-economic damages for pain and suffering and emotional damages due to stress, mental anguish, and loss of quality of life. The current cases are also seeking punitive damages to deter defendants from doing this to others in the future.  


To get more information on exposure, you can contact one of the following:

  • Regional poison control center: 1-800-222-1222
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sherman Law is investigating and pursuing cases for individuals with Parkinson's Disease who have worked with and around Paraquat. Stephanie Sherman is an experienced products liability lawyer with experience helping vicim's of chemical exposure. Contact Sherman Law if you need help. 

About the Author

Stephanie Sherman

On June 1, 2022, I joined the nationwide award-winning law firm, Baum Hedlund.  I am grateful to join this elite group of trailblazers that is so deeply committed to taking on tough cases and fighting for the underdog. You can still reach me here, via my bio page or at 800-827-0087. Stephani...

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