Paraquat is a toxic herbicide that has been used in the United States for over 50 years. This product, which can be found under numerous brand names such as Blanco and Parazone, is most often sold at a concentration of 44%.
Have you been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or another medical condition associated with exposure to Paraquat?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for agricultural farm workers, residents, and others exposed to toxic chemicals and who suffered harm through another’s negligence.
Contact our product liability attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
The Hazards of Paraquat
Agricultural workers have been spraying Paraquat onto their fields to destroy weeds and grasses resistant to glyphosate, another toxic herbicide sold under the brand name Roundup.
Because Paraquat is highly toxic, only licensed applicators who underwent the proper training can use it. In addition, they must wear protective clothing when applying this herbicide on fields because just breathing in its fumes can cause serious health problems.
Since 1962, paraquat dichloride has been among the most widely used herbicides. However, paraquat products have been known to cause toxic effects. Currently, only certified applicators can use paraquat products to minimize safety hazards.
Regulated Application Methods
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulates application methods of paraquat dichloride. For alfalfa, the rate is 1 pound of paraquat cation for every acre.
Certified applicators must spray the chemical in an enclosed Applying paraquat no more than 80 acres in 24 hours.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulates Paraquat Exposure
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all agricultural workers using Paraquat or other restricted-use pesticides to complete an application for temporary pesticide registration before being allowed to purchase these products from a local dealer or distributor.
They also need to take specific precautions while handling these dangerous chemicals, so they won’t accidentally poison themselves or others through Paraquat exposure.
In fact, from 1982 to 2002, paraquat poisoning affected roughly 2 million agricultural workers in developing countries and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.
In addition, the EPA became aware that some farmers were illegally transferring Paraquat to beverage containers in small to medium amounts, creating a catastrophic problem.
Paraquat exposure leads to serious neurological problems and long-term health effects for workers, especially those affected by spray drift.
The States That Use the Most Paraquat
Nationwide, Paraquat is used on about 7 million acres of agricultural land each year.
It is mostly found in farming fields in California and other western states that grow grapes, cotton, sugar beets, potatoes, and other crops requiring significant amounts of weed control.
California alone uses nearly 25% of all Paraquat sold in the United States, followed by other major agricultural states such as Texas, Florida, and North Carolina.
Estimated Annual Agricultural Pesticide: What States Use the Most Paraquat
Many farmers and ranch hands use Paraquat to control and kill broad-leaved weeds that require minimal involvement of Paraquat applied directly to the plant by a certified applicator.
The estimated annual agricultural pesticide use by state includes:
- North Carolina – In North Carolina, agricultural farm workers spray Paraquat and other harmful chemicals each year on about 500,000 acres of farmland. Farmers often use this toxic herbicide to eliminate weeds and poison ivy between crop rows because it is the cheapest option available.
- Florida – Florida produces nearly 175 million bushels (5 billion pounds) of sugar cane annually. As a result, Paraquat is sprayed on about 1.5 million acres of sugar cane fields each year to kill weeds and invasive plants, such as the cogon grass that grows rapidly and threatens to overwhelm other crops.
- Texas – In Texas, nearly 500,000 acres of cotton, sorghum (milo), rice, and peanuts are treated with Paraquat every year. In addition, many homeowners and residents use this toxic herbicide to eliminate weeds in their yards and gardens.
- California – The main agricultural products grown in California include grapes, cotton, sugar beets, potatoes, tomatoes, rice, and alfalfa. As a result, Paraquat is sprayed on about 9 million acres of farmland
- Georgia – In Georgia, approximately 1 million acres of cotton and peanuts are sprayed with Paraquat each year.
- South Carolina – In South Carolina, about 700,000 acres of cotton and soybeans are treated with this herbicide annually because it is the cheapest option available to farmers that want to eliminate weeds growing between rows of crops or in empty fields.
- Mississippi – In Mississippi, about 600,000 acres of cotton are sprayed with Paraquat each year.
- New Mexico – In New Mexico, nearly 500,000 acres of peanuts and sugar beets are treated with Paraquat annually because it is less expensive than other herbicides farmers can buy locally.
- Oklahoma – In Oklahoma, over 325,000 acres of cotton are sprayed with Paraquat every year because it is cheap and effective at killing weeds, especially in soil plowed four times.
- Washington – In Washington, nearly 180 million pounds of apples are harvested each year. As a result, farmers often use this herbicide to keep weeds from growing around the rows of crops they plant.
- Colorado – In Colorado, approximately 120,000 acres of sugar beets are sprayed with Paraquat because it is a cheap way to remove weeds from between rows of crops without harming the crops that grow close together.
- Wyoming – In Wyoming, about 100,000 acres of potatoes and alfalfa are treated with this herbicide to kill weeds that grow between the rows of crops planted at the same time because it is less expensive than other herbicides.
- Arkansas – In Arkansas, about 45,000 acres of cotton are sprayed with this toxic weed killer every year to remove weeds like ragweed and Johnson grass between rows of crops.
- Kansas – Almost 40,000 acres of cotton and alfalfa are treated with Paraquat in Kansas each year because it is a cheap and effective way to kill weeds.
- Illinois – About 25,000 acres of soybeans in Illinois are sprayed with Paraquat annually to remove weeds like morning glory between rows of crops.
- Ohio – About 20,000 acres of soybeans are treated with Paraquat in Ohio every year because it is the cheapest herbicide available to local farmers.
- Michigan – About 15,000 acres of potatoes are sprayed with this weed killer annually because it is less expensive than other herbicides bought locally by potato farmers.
- Wisconsin – About 11,200 acres of potatoes are treated with Paraquat in Wisconsin every year because it is the cheapest herbicide that farmers can buy locally.
- Pennsylvania – About 5,500 acres of soybeans are sprayed with Paraquat annually in Pennsylvania to remove weeds like ragweed and Johnson grass between rows of crops because it is less expensive than other options available.
- New York – Approximately 5,000 acres of potatoes are sprayed with this herbicide every year because it is the cheapest option available to farmers.
- Indiana – About 2,400 acres of soybeans in Indiana are treated with Paraquat annually because it is the cheapest herbicide that farmers can buy locally to remove weeds between rows of crops.
- Kentucky – About 1,700 acres of soybeans in Kentucky are sprayed with Paraquat annually because it is the cheapest herbicide that farmers can buy locally.
- Pennsylvania – In Pennsylvania, almost 1,500 acres of alfalfa are treated with Paraquat to eliminate weeds like morning glory between rows of crops planted at the same time because it is cheaper than other weed control chemicals available to local farmers.
- Utah – Almost 1,400 acres of alfalfa in Utah are sprayed with Paraquat annually to kill weeds like morning glory and Johnson grass between rows of crops planted at the same time because it is very inexpensive compared to other herbicide solutions.
- Minnesota – In Minnesota, almost 400 acres of potatoes are treated with Paraquat every year because it is the cheapest herbicide local farmers can buy to remove weeds.
- Michigan – In Michigan, nearly 300 acres of soybeans are treated with this herbicide each year to kill ragweed and Johnson grass between rows of crops planted at the same time because it is the cheapest option available.
Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease
Even though Paraquat is a restricted-use herbicide in America, it is still highly used in farming communities. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the adverse health effects of inhaling or ingesting
Paraquat has been a serious concern that requires supportive care measures, including intravenous fluids and drugs to assist breathing and raise lowering blood pressure.
Some individuals have developed Parkinson’s disease through paraquat injection or skin exposure, leading to oxidative stress and Drosophila melanogaster.
According to a national water quality assessment, Paraquat is a toxic contaminant affecting terrestrial and aquatic animals.
Paraquat use has led to numerous progressive neurological system disorders, including Parkinson’s disease which affects movement.
Data from the US geological survey estimates that paraquat use more than doubled in an agricultural setting between 2013 and 2017.
Some researchers have shown that Paraquat use affects mitochondrial NDUFV1 proteins, contributing to Parkinson’s disease.
In other words, people who are exposed to Paraquat over those with no exposure could develop the disease regardless of susceptibility genes or age.
For decades the EPA has known about the harmful effects of Paraquat, making efforts to ban its use in the US.
“Sufficient evidence exists for EPA to conclude that Paraquat causes serious human health effects. Furthermore, the relationship between exposure to Paraquat and development of Parkinson’s disease has been satisfactorily reproduced in laboratory animals.”
However, after millions of dollars worth of research into safer alternatives, it was decided that Paraquat was the only chemical with the power to control weeds, and it remains in use today.
Toxicity Levels in Animal Testing
About 20 years ago, a group of environmental scientists tested Paraquat on human lung cells and found that it killed these cells after 24 hours.
After that, EPA researchers exposed mice and rats to large amounts of Paraquat by injection or through their diet, and they noted that these animals developed serious health problems.
These included small cell carcinoma of the lung in mice, malignant tumors in rats’ kidneys, cataracts in rats’ eyes, pancreatic inflammation in male mice, and fatty liver degeneration in male and female mice.
Paraquat poisoning is irreversible and eventually leads to death.
It can also cause serious health problems such as kidney damage and Parkinson’s-like tremors and muscle spasms, all of which develop over the long term.
Accidental ingestion of Paraquat by children can quickly lead to death. However, in some cases, the death isn’t the result of accidental ingestion but an intentional suicide attempt.
An Accidental Death Case
In one case, outside of Detroit in the US, a forty-year-old man sprayed 5,000 square feet of his lawn with Paraquat. He then walked across the lawn and collapsed from exposure to the herbicide.
Within minutes paramedics arrived, but they were unable to revive him even though they followed proper procedure.
Paraquat has been banned in most European Union countries, but it can still be found for sale on the black market.
Unfortunately, people who buy it illegally often don’t realize that this herbicide is highly poisonous to humans and animals and can result in death if accidentally ingested.
Paraquat is not water-soluble. Therefore, it cannot be washed off fruits and vegetables before they are consumed. The toxic chemical will remain on the produce even if it is rinsed underwater.
The EPA forbids the use of Paraquat at any time “when the probability of drift or runoff to water bodies is greater than negligible.”
Paraquat also has a very high potential to contaminate groundwater once it enters the soil, which is why the EPA forbids its use at times when it is likely to seep into water supplies.
The United States Department of Agriculture classifies Paraquat as “very highly toxic” to fish, aquatic invertebrates, and amphibians. It persists in the environment for weeks before breaking down.
The EPA also discourages the application of Paraquat near ditches or drains that are near waterways because it could contaminate groundwater.
In addition, many medical professionals believe that Paraquat spraying has significant negative health effects on humans.
Paraquat is no longer used in the United Kingdom and has been banned in the entire European Union. It was also added to California’s Proposition 65 list, which means that anyone selling it commercially would have to provide a warning label on the product.
The only places where Paraquat is still legal are South Africa, China, Russia, Pakistan, and India.
Fortunately, marijuana can be grown with organic methods to avoid dangerous chemicals hazardous to people’s health, especially when paraquat ingestion is involved.
Therefore, growing your cannabis is the best way to ensure that what you are putting into your body is not contaminated with toxins or harmful chemicals.
Recover Financial Compensation through a Personal Injury Attorney
Were you diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, lung damage, brain disorder, kidney failure, or other serious medical condition?
Were you exposed to paraquat products or other toxic herbicides on a farm, at work, or in non-agricultural settings, like recreational parks?
Our law office represents victims of chemical poisoning in cases involving Roundup and paraquat products, among the most used herbicides in the United States.
Call our paraquat exposure attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to recover financial compensation from liable manufacturers of Paraquat or other toxic chemicals.
We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures you pay nothing into your case is settled through a jury trial or negotiated settlement.
In addition, we represent every family member who lost a loved one through paraquat exposure, including licensed applicators.
Many survivors are filing lawsuits against pesticide manufacturers.