Paraquat dichloride, commonly referred to as “Paraquat,” is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States. Although it’s known to be highly toxic, Paraquat is used in many agricultural and commercial settings because it’s a fast-acting, non-selective weed and grass killer.
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Recent scientific studies have led many scientists to a conclusion that there is a connection between Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. More information about Paraquat and the state of scientific knowledge about its link to Parkinson’s can be found in this article on our website.
There are numerous companies that manufacture this product, including:
- Chevron Chemical Company
- Adama Group
- Altitude Crop Innovations, LLC
- Drexel Chemical Company
- United Phosphorous
- Helm Agro
- Sinon USA, Inc.
The most common brand name of Paraquat in the United States is Gramoxone, which is manufactured by Syngenta. However, there are dozens of other brand names of Paraquat, including Firestorm, Helmquat, and Parazone.
Around the country, plaintiffs who believe they are suffering from Parkinson’s disease due to Paraquat exposure are filing lawsuits against these pesticide manufacturers.
Who Is Likely to Be Exposed to Paraquat
Paraquat is a restricted-use herbicide. This means that only licensed, trained applicators can use it, and it’s not licensed for home use. Most people who are exposed to Paraquat fall within the following categories:
- Applicators who mix or spray it.
- Farmers and their families whose fields have been sprayed with Paraquat.
- Agricultural workers who work in sprayed fields.
- People who live near farms and may be exposed by spray drift or contaminated water.
For farmers and agricultural workers, exposure primarily occurs through dermal (skin) exposure or inhalation.
Ohio Crops Subject to Paraquat Usage
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), 44% of Ohio is considered prime farmland. Ohio’s cropland harvest increased from 10.1 million acres in 2012 to 10.2 million acres in 2017 according to the USDA 2017 Census on Agriculture.
Paraquat is used on many crops grown in Ohio, including:
Ohio ranks seventh nationally in terms of soybean production, with 4.9 million acres planted according to 2020 estimates of the National Agricultural Statistic Service (“NASS”). The highest soybean acreages include Darke, Van Wert, Hardin, Hancock, Seneca, and Madison counties.
However, soybeans are grown throughout the entire state of Ohio. For soybeans, Paraquat is used as a pre-harvest desiccant (drying aid).
Ohio ranks eighth in corn production nationally. Corn consumes 3.5 million acres across 25,000 farms in Ohio, mostly in the western portion of the state.
According to the NASS, rural Drake, Mercer, and Pickaway counties had the largest 2020 corn acreage with, respectively, 137,000, 110,000, and 90,000 acres of corn planted. Nearly all Ohio counties, however, grow corn. Paraquat is used on corn to eliminate grasses and broad-leaved weeds at the post-emergence state.
Hay and Alfalfa
Ohio harvested 900,000 acres of hay and alfalfa in 2017 according to the 2017 USDA Agricultural Census. The highest acreages were in Greene, Montgomery, Pickaway, Brown, and Preble counties. Hay and alfalfa are, however, planted throughout the entire state.
Paraquat is commonly used on alfalfa when weeds become too large for other herbicides and is considered a rescue treatment to reduce the weed volume canopy over alfalfa seedlings. The herbicide is used on hay to manage Bahiagrass and bermudagrass in hay meadows during the warm season.
Over 530,000 acres of wheat were planted in Ohio in 2020 according to the estimates of the NASS. Lucas, Fulton, Shelby, and Van Wert counties had among the highest acreages, but wheat is cultivated throughout much of the entire state.
Recent studies suggest that applying Paraquat as soon as possible following wheat harvest allows for better coverage and more effective weed control, especially of pigweeds, which compete against warm-season wheat crops.
Fruit & More
- Apples – Apple orchards accounted for 4,000 of Ohio farmland, with Licking and Lorain counties having the highest acreage. Paraquat kills undesirable green tissue on apples.
- Vineyards – Ohio is the sixth largest wine producer in the country, with just over 1,500 acres of vineyards producing and selling 1.2 million gallons of wine annually. Paraquat is used on vineyards for quick burndown of weeds.
- Potatoes – Ohio’s potato crop is grown on approximately 1,200 acres. Wayne, Fulton, Henry, Portage, Champaign and Washington counties produce the most potatoes. Paraquat is used for early post-emergence control of broadleaved and grass weeds in potato fields.
- Peaches – Peach weeds are frequently controlled by the use of Paraquat. Ohio has 900 acres of peach orchards primarily located in the central and northeast parts of the state.
Ohio Paraquat Usage Statistics
The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water-Quality Assessment estimates agricultural pesticide use in the United States, by county, for numerous pesticides. The estimates are based on farm surveys of pesticide use, as well as estimates of agricultural land and harvested crop acres.
We have developed the following map of Ohio based on these pesticide statistics. The map shows, by county, the cumulative median amounts of Paraquat applied between 2013 and 2017. Paraquat use in Ohio has grown significantly since 2013 with the growth of weed resistance to pesticides.
The Ohio counties which had the highest rates of application, in excess of 9,000 kilograms per year, were the following:
The second highest group of counties, with an application rate of 7,000 to 9,000 kg per year, were the following counties:
Contact an Attorney Today
Nearly 99% of Ohio’s farms are owned by farm families. Many of these families have been regularly exposed to herbicides such as Paraquat. If you or a loved one has Parkinson’s disease and you believe that Paraquat exposure is involved, it may be possible to file a lawsuit to recover financial compensation for all of your damages, including medical costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and a decline in your quality of life.
An expert tip from Seth Schanher
Initially, you should know that there are hurdles to overcome in this type of litigation. You will need to prove causation – that your illness was caused by Paraquat. This is sometimes difficult in cases, as here, where several different manufacturers made the product, or where the disease doesn’t manifest itself for many years and may have other causes.
Contact our firm for help. There are deadlines to file toxic exposure lawsuits, and investigations that must be performed, so the sooner you get started the better. It costs you nothing to get started.