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Chemical Mixers, Tank Fillers, Herbicide Applicators - Paraquat Use and Parkinson’s Disease

Posted on 31st January, 2022

by Legal Staff

Paraquat is a restricted-use pesticide only available for use by commercially licensed applicators.

It carries severe health risks that have not been disclosed by manufacturers for years and which are known to cause Parkinson's disease in agricultural workers.

Furthermore, the chemical has been sold and distributed without proper warnings, even for certified applicators.

Anyone who applies paraquat must be formally trained and accredited before mixing, filling, or applying paraquat.

According to recent studies carried out by the National Institute of Health and the Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center, people exposed to paraquat are 2.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those who were not exposed to the harmful substance. Due to its high level of toxicity, paraquat has been banned in at least 32 countries. However, the use of this dangerous substance is expected to increase throughout the U.S., and so are Parkinson's cases due to paraquat exposure.

Paraquat Exposure Causes and Effects

Paraquat poisoning typically occurs when swallowing the chemical through contaminated food or beverages. Workers who are in contact with the harmful substance are also susceptible to poisoning; consequently, one measure taken to avoid such circumstances represents the addition of a blue pigment so as not to mistake paraquat for a food item.

Other sources of paraquat exposure are inhalation and skin contact, which usually happens after long-term exposure, especially if the substance comes into contact with cuts, rashes, or sores.

Paraquat poisoning and paraquat exposure are different in their operating timeframes - the first one occurs immediately, and the latter represents a cumulative process.

Aside from the immediate effects of paraquat exposure on agricultural workers, such as nosebleeds, eye injuries, and skin burns, there is one less immediately apparent consequence - Parkinson's disease.

The Environmental Protection Agency determined paraquat primary exposure takes place during the mixing, loading, and spraying of the substance and throughout the post-application process. In recent years, paraquat was deemed a restricted-use chemical available to trained applicators. In addition, due to its high toxicity, in August 2021, The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a series of new safety measures for paraquat use:

  • adding mandatory spray drift management language on labels
  • prohibiting pressurized handgun and backpack sprayer application methods on labels
  • prohibiting paraquat aerial application for all users and sites except cotton desiccation
  • limiting the maximum application rate for alfalfa to one pound of active ingredient per acre
  • requiring enclosed cabs when the area treated in a 24-hour timeframe is larger than 80 acres
  • requiring a residential area drift buffer and 7-day restricted entry interval for cotton desiccation
  • requiring enclosed cabs or PF10 respirators when the area treated in a 24-hour timeframe is 80 acres or less
  • requiring a 48-hour restricted entry interval for all crops and uses except cotton desiccation

Additionally, truck drivers who are not licensed applicators might be allowed to transport the herbicide under certain specific guidelines.

These measures aim to mitigate the risks of paraquat exposure and ensure the well-being of agricultural workers using the herbicide and people living close to farming communities where paraquat is used. When these directions become applicable, Parkinson's disease cases resulting from paraquat exposure will significantly decrease.

While herbicides like paraquat can help prevent grass and weed growth, they can also inflict severe health issues. Sadly, many employees in the agriculture sector are regularly exposed to highly toxic pesticides:

  • Chemical mixers - paraquat exposure happens because employees are not provided with adequate safety equipment, like gloves, goggles, helmets, and bodysuits, or the equipment is defective, causing dermal exposure or direct exposure through inhalation. Paraquat residues can also persist on shoes and follow them home after work.
  • Tank fillers - because they handle the concentrated form of pesticides, they are at high risk of coming in contact with paraquat when pouring the chemical, especially by breathing particles, contaminating their hands, or splashing liquid concentrates on clothing or directly on the skin.
  • Herbicide applicators - they are at the most risk and exposure can occur by operating pesticide containers, through skin contact with paraquat residue, or inhalation.

Pesticides like paraquat can be extremely harmful, depending on the level of toxicity, exposure length of time, and how it enters the body.

Atraxia Law Can Help You File a Paraquat Claim

If you or your loved ones have been exposed to paraquat as chemical mixers, tank fillers, or herbicide applicators and received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, it is crucial that you seek immediate assistance as the assessment mechanism is lengthy and complex.

The professionals at Atraxia Law will evaluate your situation and go to great lengths to establish if you are eligible to file a paraquat claim.

Nevertheless, the evaluation process will require minimal involvement on your part, as we will diligently handle every aspect on your behalf.