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A product liability lawsuit has been filed against Syngenta, Chevron and other herbicide manufacturers over failure to disclose information about the link between Parkinson’s disease and paraquat exposure, indicating that a former crop duster developed the severe brain disorder after years of spraying the toxic weed and grass killer.
Paraquat has been on the market for decades, although the controversial herbicide is known to be toxic and pose serious health risks. Although it has been known exposure may lead to paraquat poisoning, increasing evidence published in recent years has suggested individuals exposed to the herbicide are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, which is a chronic and progressive condition that causes shaking, stiffness, difficulty walking and other debilitating symptoms that get worse over time.
In a complaint (PDF) filed late last year in Illinois state court, Michael Joseph Kearns and his wife present claims against a number of manufacturers of paraquat-based herbicides, alleging that exposure as a crop duster between 1964 and the early 1980s resulted in his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in November 2019.
Kearns was repeatedly exposed to paraquat that was inhaled, ingested or absorbed through his skin while spraying the herbicide as a crop duster in Wisconsin and Illinois.
“No doctor or any other person told Plaintiff Michael Joseph Kearns before November 25, 2019, that his Parkinson’s disease was or could have been caused by exposure to paraquat,” the lawsuit states. “At no time when using paraquat himself was Plaintiff Michael Joseph Kearns aware that exposure to paraquat could cause any latent injury, including any neurological injury or Parkinson’s disease, or that any precautions were necessary to prevent any latent injury that could be caused by exposure to paraquat.”
The lawsuit comes as a growing number of studies in recent years have highlighted the potential Parkinson’s disease risks from paraquat herbicides, suggesting that individuals may face risks from handling, transporting, mixing or applying the grass and weed killer, even when safety precautions provided by the manufacturers are followed.