Herbicides that contain the chemical paraquat—like Gramoxone, Parazone, and Blanco—have been banned by the European Union, China, and Brazil because of their dangerous link to Parkinson’s disease. America has not only failed to ban paraquat but has doubled its use between 2006 and 2016, despite multiple studies highlighting its dangerous side effects. On average, 8 million pounds of paraquat is sprayed every year on corn, soybeans, wheat, and other crops throughout America. 

Agricultural workers and consumer activists are saying enough is enough, and are demanding that manufacturers are held accountable for producing and selling such a dangerous chemical. Numerous organizations, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation, have also urged Congress to pass legislation that would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the herbicide. 

If you or a loved one were exposed to paraquat and later were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, schedule a free legal consultation with The Ferraro Law Firm. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and similar losses.

Which Herbicides Contain Paraquat?

Paraquat is found in many herbicides. The following are the brand names of weed killers that contain paraquat:

  • Blanco
  • Bonfire
  • Cyclone
  • Devour
  • Firestorm
  • Gramoxone
  • Helmquat
  • Parazone
  • Para-SHOT
  • Quik-Quat
  • VECOL

Research Shows Link Between Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease

Over the last decade, multiple studies have shown that exposure to paraquat significantly increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

As early as 2009, The American Journal of Epidemiology reported that if paraquat was sprayed within 550 yards of a home, the chances of residents’ developing Parkinson’s disease increased by an astounding 75 percent.

Since that early study, multiple reports have reported similar findings. In 2011, a National Institute of Health study found that agricultural workers were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease if they used and were exposed to paraquat. Even more concerning, a study published the following year by the Genetic Modification Association found that some individuals that had particular genetic modifications were 11 times more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease if they were exposed to paraquat.

What is even more telling is that research has shown that the chemical produces a reaction in the body that is linked to Parkinson’s disease. Scientists found that in individuals who were exposed to paraquat, the chemical killed some of their cells through oxidative stress, a reaction that is also found in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

These alarming findings have spurred countries around the world to ban the use of paraquat. But in America, the herbicide is still used to this day by agricultural workers.

The Ferraro Law Firm’s heat map agricultural use of paraquat across the US in 2017

Activists Urge Congress to Ban Paraquat in the U.S.

Despite dozens of countries around the world banning paraquat, including the United Kingdom, China, Brazil, and the European Union, paraquat can still be applied to U.S. crops.

Currently, paraquat is a restricted herbicide, which means that the average consumer cannot purchase it for their personal use in residential gardens. Instead, it is purchased by commercial farmers who have a special license to apply it.

These restrictions, however, do not protect the laborers who are spray and are exposed to paraquat every day. Nor does it protect those who live in agricultural areas near large farms where paraquat is applied.

In 2019, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez introduced H.R.3817: the Protect Against Paraquat Act. If passed, the bill would have required the U.S. EPA to prohibit the sale and use of paraquat.

In 2020, Senator Tom Udall and Representative Joe Neguse introduced a more expansive bill in the U.S. Senate called the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020. This bill also called for a ban on paraquat, but it was never voted on.

U.S. EPA Approves Paraquat Again Despite Research Linking the Herbicide to Parkinson’s

Despite these attempts by members of Congress, in October of 2019, the EPA discounted research showing the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease.

The following year, the EPA approved paraquat again, despite groups like the Michael J. Fox Foundation urging them not to. The foundation had submitted a petition with more than 107,000 signatures from members of the community urging the agency to ban the harmful herbicide.

The EPA approval did come, however, with additional restrictions on usage and application, including prohibiting aerial application in most cases. However, given the serious complications and threats to the health of agricultural workers, activists believe the restrictions are not enough to protect public health.

Dozens of Paraquat Lawsuits Filed by Agricultural Workers With Parkinson’s Disease

More than 70 farmers and agricultural laborers have filed lawsuits against paraquat manufacturers and distributors, including Syngenta and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. Syngenta manufactures the paraquat-containing herbicide Gramoxone, and Chevron sells and distributes Gramoxone in the United States.

Plaintiffs were all diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to paraquat. Lawsuits allege that Syngenta and Chevron continued to manufacture and sell the harmful herbicide despite knowing the damaging effects on human health and paraquat’s link to Parkinson’s disease.

In June 2021, it was announced that paraquat lawsuits would be consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Southern District of Illinois. Consolidation allows injured agricultural workers and their legal teams to share evidence throughout the discovery process. Since one judge will be overseeing the litigation, U.S. Judge Nancy Rosenstengel, it will ensure consistent pre-trial rulings.

The Ferraro Law Firm: Standing Up to Big Chemical Corporations Since 1985

If you have been exposed to a paraquat-containing herbicide (including Gramoxone, Helmquat, Parazone, Para-SHOT, or Quik-Quat) and were later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may qualify to file a paraquat lawsuit. A paraquat lawsuit can help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, loss of wages if you are unable to work, pain and suffering, and more.

The toxic tort attorneys at The Ferraro Law Firm have obtained justice against some of the largest chemical manufacturers in the country for producing and selling harmful products. Our founder, James Ferraro, Sr., obtained a $4 million verdict against DuPont for a fungicide that harmed a pregnant mother’s baby, causing the infant to be born without eyes.

If you believe you or a loved one may qualify for a paraquat lawsuit, contact us today to schedule a free legal consultation. Our law firm has the skills and resources to hold the manufacturers accountable for the harm you may have suffered.

Paraquat Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is paraquat?
  • Why are people filing paraquat lawsuits?
  • Do I qualify to file a paraquat lawsuit?

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