What Is Paraquat Used For?
Many scientists believe the chemical paraquat is toxic and deadly. Ingesting even tiny amounts can kill a person. But despite these dangers, regulators in the United States still allow paraquat to be manufactured and used in our country.
This guide outlines the most common uses of paraquat, the side effects of paraquat exposure, the link to Parkinson’s disease, and much more.
What Is Paraquat Herbicide?
Paraquat is used primarily in agriculture and is a popular additive to weedkillers. The U.S. government now has regulations in place to keep handlers safe – they all must use protective gear and follow strict safety procedures. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirms that only licensed applicators can use or handle paraquat.
Paraquat manufacturers in the United States are required to include a “vomiting agent” to help protect anyone who accidentally swallows the chemical. Unfortunately, other countries that still manufacture paraquat may not be required to include this precaution.
What Is Paraquat Used For?
Because paraquat is used so frequently in farming, its primary purpose is to help protect crops. Other common uses include:
- Drying out cotton
- Killing weeds in fruit orchards
- Reducing grass that grows over crops
- Drying out potato stems
U.S. regulations specify that paraquat must be secured out of reach of small children. The containers must be clearly identified with hazard warning labels. Paraquat cannot be stored near private homes or non-commercial areas. Paraquat also cannot be stored near or transferred to drinking containers.
While many other countries have banned paraquat, it is still currently being manufactured and used in the United States.
What You Need to Know About Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease
Not every person exposed to paraquat will get Parkinson’s disease. However, numerous sources claim that anyone exposed to paraquat has a much higher likelihood of being diagnosed with the disease.
The Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and Paraquat
Scientific research has officially linked paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease to the handling of herbicides, solvents, and chemicals used in agriculture and manufacturing. According to researchers, the number of people with Parkinson’s disease is expected to double in the next 20 years.
11 Facts to Know About Paraquat
Paraquat has a controversial history despite its myriad of uses in agriculture. Here are 11 interesting facts about this chemical:
1. Paraquat is Effective
Paraquat remains popular because it is effective. The chemical quickly controls weeds and breaks down in dirt. Other weeds have proven to be resistant to glyphosate, a popular chemical in Roundup. Paraquat does not have this issue.
2. Farmers Continue to Find New Uses for Paraquat
Paraquat works on most species of plants and can be used to:
- Aid harvests
- Burndown weeds
- Control weeds in spray form
3. Paraquat is Dangerous When Touched or Ingested
If a person’s eyes or skin come into direct contact with paraquat, they can experience side effects almost immediately. Serious lung damage and multi-organ failure can occur if the chemical is ingested.
4. Handlers Must Use Special Equipment to Handle Paraquat
Government regulations require all handlers who come in close contact with paraquat to wear certain types of gloves. Options include:
- Barrier laminate
- Butyl rubber
- Nitrile rubber
- Neoprene rubber
- Natural rubber
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Any gloves used in conjunction with paraquat must be 14 mils (thousandths of an inch) or thicker.
5. Paraquat Health Concerns Started in the 1970s
Back in the 1970s, U.S. law enforcement was searching for ways to prevent the illegal shipment of marijuana from Mexico to the United States. One idea was to give paraquat to the Mexican government. They sprayed marijuana crops with the chemical, hoping to kill them before they could be transported across the border. Unfortunately, Mexican drug dealers harvested and moved the drugs anyway.
6. There Have Been Many Calls to Ban Paraquat
Currently, 32 countries have banned the use of Paraquat due to health and environmental concerns. The European Union banned paraquat in 2007, just three years after allowing it.
7. Paraquat is Still Widely Used in the United States
Paraquat remains popular in the United States, and all efforts to ban the chemical have failed to this point.
8. Paraquat Manufacturers Are Required to Take Precautions
Because the chemical has no taste or smell, companies that make paraquat are required to include blue dye for safety reasons. The blue color helps people distinguish it from sodas and other drinks, although in one case, it was mistakenly consumed from a Gatorade bottle – hence the regulation that it cannot be stored in drinking containers.
9. Paraquat Lawsuits Have been Consolidated Into One Multidistrict Litigation
Hundreds of thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of paraquat. These lawsuits allege that exposure to the toxic chemical heightens the risk of Parkinson’s disease. As a result, an MDL was formed in 2021 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to expedite the legal process.
10. There is No Cure for Paraquat Poisoning
While there are treatment options for the symptoms of paraquat poisoning, there is currently no cure.
11. Paraquat Treatments Remove the Poison and Treat Symptoms
There are currently several treatments for paraquat poisoning, including:
- IV fluid
- Blood pressure medication
- Breathing medication
- Kidney dialysis
Fuller’s earth (a clay material) and activated charcoal are also sometimes used to try to remove the chemical from the patient’s body. Fuller’s earth binds with paraquat, while activated charcoal prevents the chemical from being absorbed.
Symptoms and Side Effects of Paraquat Exposure
How sick a person gets from paraquat exposure usually depends on their health before the exposure. Their poisoning level also depends on how long and how much of the chemical they were exposed to.
If you come into contact with paraquat by swallowing it, the lining of your mouth can suffer immediate damage. As the chemical works its way into your stomach and intestines, you can suffer additional injuries.
Once paraquat is in your system, it will work its way throughout your body. While its effects can cause toxic reactions anywhere, your lungs, liver, and kidneys will likely suffer the most damage.
Short-Term Side Effects
If you accidentally swallow paraquat, your mouth and throat will probably swell almost immediately. Along with intense pain, you may also experience:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody diarrhea
As the poison progresses, you may also become dehydrated, experience low blood pressure, or not have enough potassium or sodium in your body.
Additional symptoms of paraquat exposure may include:
- Cell death
- Tissue death
- Blood clotting
- Mouth and tongue ulcers
- Fluid-filled lung cysts
- Lung scarring
- Lung collapse
- Kidney failure
Long-Term Side Effects
If you or anyone you know is at risk of paraquat exposure, take every possible precaution. Even very small amounts of the chemical can kill you. Experts estimate that ingesting just a teaspoon is enough to cause death.
Paraquat rapidly causes cell damage as the chemical makes its way throughout the body, potentially causing:
- Lung damage – Paraquat exposure causes the lungs to fill up with liquid. In time, your lungs could become scarred, leading to internal bleeding and difficulty breathing.
- Multiple organ failure – Your lungs, kidneys, liver, and other organs may fail.
- Cardiogenic shock – This is when your heart can no longer pump blood to your entire body.
What Are the Brand Names of Paraquat?
Since being introduced in 1962, paraquat has been used by multiple companies under a variety of brand names. If you or someone you love was injured due to exposure to the following products, you may be eligible for compensation.
Brand names of products that contain paraquat include:
- Cyclone SL 2.0
- Para-Shot 3.0
- Helmquat 3SL
- Bai Cao Ku
- Toxer Total
- AH 501
- Ortho Paraquat CL
What Should I Know If I Am Considering a Paraquat Lawsuit?
If you believe you were exposed to paraquat, schedule an appointment with a doctor immediately. Before filing a claim, you will need solid medical documentation to establish your case. A skilled product liability lawyer can walk you through the necessary steps of filing a claim.
While there are many lawyers to choose from to represent your best interests, your choice should be based on who is the best person for the job. Here are some questions that you can ask your prospective attorney before hiring them.
Does Your Firm Offer Free Consultations?
There is no guarantee that your case has merit. You will need to establish your case based on medical evaluations and many other building blocks. When choosing a law firm, they should be willing to consult with you for free before requiring any fees for legal representation.
You will not know if you have a case until you speak to a professional. Many attorneys accept product liability cases on a contingency basis, which means you do not pay any upfront fees for their legal services. Instead, they take a percentage of any payout they can successfully negotiate or win for you.
This practice can protect you from paying for legal representation only to find out your case does not have merit. Contingency fees also protect you from the expensive costs of building your lawsuit. A contingency-based law firm does not get paid unless your claim is successful.
Does Your Law Firm Have a Proven History of Success?
If you hire an attorney, choose one with a clear track record of successful litigation in product liability cases. Ask for specific examples that show their results achieved in past cases that are similar to yours.
How Experienced Are You?
If you decide to file a lawsuit against the company responsible for your paraquat-related injuries, realize that the defendant’s representatives will have a deep understanding of the nuances of law. They will know how to bend or obscure facts. They may try to strong-arm you into settling your case for a dollar amount that is far below what your case is potentially worth.
An experienced product litigation lawyer can help negotiate against these tactics and offer solid guidance about your next steps.
Do You Know My State’s Statute of Limitations?
Every state in the nation has its own time limits that dictate when you can file a claim against a company. The legal term for these time limits is “statutes of limitations.” They are intended to keep litigation from dragging out too long.
If you hire a lawyer to help with your case, you will want one who is knowledgeable about statutes of limitations across the country. Product liability cases often stretch across multiple states, and litigation can be very complicated.
A law firm with national experience will know how and when to file the proper paperwork for your claim. They can also gather documentation to build your case and determine if you are eligible for compensation.
The Effects of Paraquat Exposure Can Last a Lifetime
Because Parkinson’s disease has no known cure as of this writing, you may suffer the effects of paraquat poisoning for the rest of your life. Any potential compensation could help you deal with the financial hardship of your disease.
Certain family members can also file a claim on behalf of a loved one who passed away after paraquat exposure.
Contact an Attorney About Filing a Paraquat Lawsuit
If you are suffering from Parkinson’s disease or other effects of paraquat exposure due to a company’s negligence, you have a legal right to seek justice for your damages.
Paraquat poisoning may prevent you from working the same job or ever returning to work at all. Seeking a financial settlement can help your recover these lost wages. You may also qualify for reimbursement for other economic and non-economic damages, such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
You do not have to take on a paraquat manufacturer and their legal team alone. An attorney can help build your case and seek the compensation you deserve. To get started, fill out our contact form to connect with a lawyer in our network and schedule your free case evaluation.