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What Are the Effects of Herbicide Paraquat?

Toxic herbicide paraquat effects.

In the United States, the agricultural industry uses paraquat as a weed killer. It is very dangerous and often causes illnesses or other health issues to industry workers. Exposure happens through the skin, inhalation, or ingestion. It is harmful in any amount. If you or your loved one suffered paraquat exposure, you should consider speaking to a paraquat personal injury lawyer. You could be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills and suffering, among other damages.

What is the Herbicide Paraquat?

Paraquat has existed since the 1960s. Companies in many countries used it as a weed-killer. Then Roundup became more popular and paraquat use dropped. In the last few decades, weeds have grown increasingly resistant to Roundup, and paraquat use subsequently rose. It is especially useful in farming soybeans, corn, and cotton to combat invasive weeds and grasses. Over 30 countries have banned paraquat because of its toxicity, including the European Union and China. In the United States, anyone that uses paraquat must have a special license and training. Paraquat is still widely used in the United States as an alternative weed killer to Roundup, to which plants have become resistant in recent years. The United States allows it only for commercial use.

Is the Herbicide Paraquat Dangerous?

Paraquat is highly toxic and poisonous. There is no antidote for paraquat poisoning. That means that once someone is exposed, there is no way to stop the damage. Workers use paraquat to kill aggressive grasses between plantings. Basically, it kills everything it lands on. Manufacturers selling paraquat in the United States must dye it blue to prevent people from drinking it. They must also add a sharp odor and an agent that induces vomiting.

Paraquat poisoning can happen to people if they inhale it, ingest it, or absorb it through their skin. Paraquat causes toxic chemical reactions throughout the body. It also directly damages surfaces it comes into contact with, such as the lining of the mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Inhaling paraquat will probably cause lung damage. Paraquat poisoning can lead to serious long-term health issues and organ failure, if not death. The EPA claims that even one tiny sip of paraquat can be deadly.

The Effects of Herbicide Paraquat

Paraquat ingestion is unsafe in any amount. After exposure to a sufficient amount, a person will immediately start having reactions inside their mouth and throat. They will then likely experience nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. After some time, ingesting paraquat leads to more serious symptoms, such as:

  • Coma,
  • Respiratory failure,
  • Seizures,
  • Kidney failure, and
  • Liver failure.

If someone ingests enough paraquat, they likely won’t survive. However, paraquat is not safe in any amount. In smaller amounts, paraquat poisoning can lead to heart failure, organ failure, and lung scarring, though it may not happen as quickly.

Some studies found that there is a link between long-term paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement. It is an incurable, degenerative brain disease.

What Are the Necessary Precautions When Using Paraquat Herbicide?

Anyone using paraquat in the United States must be a trained, certified applicator. Supervision is not enough. The person actually handling the paraquat has to be certified. Even so, the EPA  lays out some very strict precautions that handlers must follow:

  • Never transfer paraquat to any other container, especially those for food or drink;
  • Always keep paraquat secure and never store it in or around residences; and
  • Never use paraquat around schools, parks, golf courses, playgrounds, or gardens.

The EPA also proposed new protective requirements when it authorized paraquat’s re-registration. They attempt to crack down further on how, when, and where handlers can apply paraquat.

The National Institutes of Health recommends that paraquat users wear the appropriate personal protective equipment and eye protection. At a minimum, workers must wear long sleeves and pants, shoes and socks, and chemical-resistant gloves. Other workers must also wear coveralls, aprons, and face shields, depending on their job. It also recommends certain respirators and access to a shower.

Paraquat Litigation

By 2021, people had filed over 300 lawsuits against the herbicide’s manufacturers. The plaintiffs argue that they would have taken extra precautions to prevent exposure if they had known how dangerous paraquat was. The lawsuits claim that the manufacturers and sellers had a duty to make its users aware of the dangers. They focus on allegations that paraquat is tied to Parkinson’s disease. In June, the mass tort litigation was consolidated in the Southern District of Illinois. Centralizing these cases into a Multidistrict Litigation in front of one judge helps streamline the litigation process.

In July 2021, the EPA re-approved the paraquat registration for another 15 years. During the process, they stated that there’s not enough evidence to link paraquat exposure to adverse health outcomes, such as Parkinson’s disease. Some farm worker’s associations and environmental groups have sued the EPA over this move. They cite the research connecting paraquat to Parkinson’s and argue that regardless, the chance of respiratory damage or eye damage is an unreasonable risk for farmers.

If You Were Exposed to Paraquat, Contact D’Amore Law Group

D’Amore Law Group has experienced trial attorneys with offices in Oregon and Washington. We handle claims against paraquat, hernia mesh, 3M earplugs, e-cigarettes, and other mass tort litigation. Our practice areas also include car and truck accidents and wrongful death. We have recovered over $100 million for our clients. We are committed to providing excellent service to our clients. Our main focus at D’amore Law is to find and bring justice to our clients from people or companies that were negligent and created unnecessary damages. If you were exposed to paraquat, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation about your case.

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