Paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide usually sold under the brand names Gramoxone, Parazone, and Firestorm, has been the target of increasing legal action by farm workers who suffered either acute paraquat poisoning or the life-altering effects of sustained exposure through their work. However, farm workers are not the only ones affected by paraquat exposure. Those who live near agricultural areas where it is used or who have unknowingly ingested contaminated food may also experience long-term effects, including Parkinson’s Disease.
The most commonly used herbicide in the United States, paraquat is used on large-scale farms growing soybeans, vegetables, tubers, fruit, and other crops. Since 2016, use has been controlled by regulations requiring those who apply paraquat products to receive a certification. Before 2016, however, application of paraquat was much less regulated, and many farm workers sprayed the herbicide without proper training or protective gear.
Because paraquat is applied by spraying, a certain amount of the chemical “drifts” to surrounding communities, potentially resulting in sustained, long-term exposure within the population. In addition, improper application or storage of paraquat can lead to food contamination, meaning the end consumer ingests far more of the herbicide than is allowable, or safe. The most severe outcome of paraquat poisoning is Parkinson’s Disease – a devastating illness that is not always traced to its root cause.
Those who have lived near large-scale farms and have developed Parkinson’s Disease or experienced other acute health problems should investigate legal action against the manufacturers and distributors of paraquat. For more information, please read this blog post.