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What Is Paraquat?

Posted on 15th March, 2021

by Legal Staff

Paraquat is one of the most highly toxic herbicides that has been manufactured in the last 60 years.

It is very effective in destroying weeds and grasses that became resistant to glyphosate, a dangerous herbicide sold under the brand name of Roundup in the United States.

Paraquat is currently used on more than 100 crops, such as soybeans, potatoes, sugarcane, vegetables, cotton, and peanuts, in approximately 100 countries.

However, 32 countries, including some in the European Union, placed a ban on this herbicide due to health reasons, as exposure to paraquat has a strong connection to Parkinson's disease.

Furthermore, paraquat poisoning is fatal in 70% of cases and can occur by ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation. The most common brand name of paraquat in the United States is Gramoxone, which is manufactured by Syngenta. Nevertheless, there are numerous other brand names for this herbicide throughout the country.

The substance, which is scientifically known as paraquat dichloride, is the main active ingredient in the herbicide. Most products that contain it have a concentration of nearly 44% paraquat dichloride. It is classified as a viologen, which refers to organic compounds that can change color reversibly multiple times through reduction and oxidation.

The term viologen pertains to the color violet which organic compounds can exhibit. Nevertheless, the radical cation of paraquat, which is a positively charged species that has an atom bearing an unpaired electron, is blue. Paraquat is one of the most common viologens, being a derivative of methyl. Lastly, viologens are a family of redox-active heterocycles of similar structures.

The Link Between Paraquat Exposure and Parkinson's Disease

Paraquat destroys weeds and grasses by causing oxidative stress, which breaks oxygen atoms free from the molecules of the living cells. When a person breathes in paraquat mist or when the herbicide is absorbed through their skin, it will travel through the lungs, the olfactory bulb, which is the part of your body that drives your sense of smell, the skin, or the stomach and will subsequently damage a part of the brain medically known as the substantia nigra pars compacta.

This part of the brain produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in how we experience a pleasure. Dopamine is also involved in memory, attention, and reward. Some renowned medical studies conducted on animals found that when paraquat reaches the substantia nigra pars compacta, it depletes the neurons that release dopamine and the same effect is believed to occur in humans when they are exposed to this herbicide.

A low concentration of dopamine in the body is associated with Parkinson's disease. When the brain is unable to produce enough dopamine, this will result in the impairment of numerous essential functions, which gradually occurs in people with Parkinson's disease.

This is how paraquat exposure contributes to the development of Parkinson's disease in people who are frequently in contact with this herbicide. As a result of low dopamine levels, people who struggle with this brain disorder will experience the following symptoms:

  • a tremor in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
  • stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • slowness of movement
  • impaired balance and coordination

The Expert Team of Atraxia Law Will Help You File a Paraquat Claim

People who developed Parkinson's disease as a result of paraquat exposure are eligible for compensation. With over 35 years of experience in evaluating personal injury and product liability claims, our team of professionals will thoroughly assess your situation to determine whether you qualify for filing a paraquat claim.

Although the process is quite complex, it will require minimal involvement on your part and a family member can help you navigate it, as we know that people who struggle with this brain disorder often experience difficulty in explaining their situation. The only documents we will need from you are evidence of your paraquat exposure and proof of your diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Eventually, you will know with certainty whether you are eligible for filing a paraquat claim. If you qualify, we will subsequently guide you to a lawyer whose main area of practice is toxic exposure so that you can recover the compensation you are entitled to.