Product News and Recalls

Parkinson’s and Paraquat: What You Need to Know

lawsuits look to link paraquat exposure with Parkinson's diseaseLitigation continues to move forward as concerns grow over the link between a powerful and toxic herbicide and Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a debilitating illness that destroys the patient’s nervous system while causing incredible pain – not only for the person suffering from the illness but for their families and loved ones as well.

The use of paraquat has been banned in over 30 countries around the world because of its high toxicity and the risks it poses to humans. It is, however, still allowed in the United States, even though any number of studies appear to link the compound to triggers that go on to cause Parkinson’s and other diseases like it.

The subject has finally entered the legal realm as a Missouri crop duster pilot and his wife have sued paraquat’s manufacturers after he developed Parkinson’s after years of exposure to the powerful herbicide. The company’s attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed have failed and now Henry and Tara Holyfield will have their day in court.

According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, we still don’t know exactly what causes Parkinson’s to develop. Theories abound, however, and several possible causes including genetic and heredity, as well as environmental factors and exposure to pesticides, are specifically highlighted in APDA’s literature.

Among the genetic causes for Parkinson’s are thought to be a specific mutation in the LRRK2 gene. Studies indicate that the mutation is more likely to be found in families of Jewish or North African decent, although APDA does point out that “in most cases, no primary genetic cause can be found.”

Environmental causes include “significant exposure to pesticides or certain heavy metals and repeated head injuries.” The group notes, however, that large amounts of time can elapse between the exposure events and the onset of symptoms. Such time lapses make it increasingly difficult to specifically tie the event to the onset of the disease.