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Herbicides and Parkinson’s Disease 

Published on November 18th, 2021 by Andrew Hughes

Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that can be caused by exposures to herbicides, including paraquat.  Parkinson’s affects body movement and often presents as tremors. Symptoms can be barely noticeable at first, and progress over time. There is no cure for Parkinson’s. However, with proper treatment, symptoms can be managed. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year. Current studies suggest that railroad workers and farmers are at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s

Cause of Parkinson’s Disease

Until recently, scientists believed that Parkinson’s was caused by errors in genes. Environmental exposures were not considered. Today, epidemiologists understand that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are a driving force.

Defense attorneys will argue that men are predisposed to Parkinson’s. It is true that men are 1.5 times more likely than women to develop this disease. But historically, men have worked with pesticides and herbicides more than women. Thus, the exposures to herbicides play a significant role in skewing the numbers.

Companies who manufacture and distribute paraquat and 2,4-D try to muddy the waters. But the connection between paraquat and 2,4-D and Parkinson’s gets clearer with every published, peer-reviewed study. When certain genes are exposed to chemicals in pesticides and herbicides, Parkinson’s can develop.

Paraquat and 2,4-D Exposures and Parkinson’s

Railroads have used paraquat and 2,4-D to keep right of ways and rail yards free from weeds. While the railroads bring in contractors to spray herbicides today, they used to handle the spraying in-house. In the 1970’s, railroads set up special “spray trains.”  Locomotive crew members have described the herbicides being sprayed a few car lengths away as they crept along the right away. Depending on the wind direction, some of them were exposed to the herbicides all day long. Exposures like this can lead to Parkinson’s disease.

Farmers would also use paraquat to control weeds. Whether sprayed via crop-dusters, or from a tractor, farmers and their families were needlessly exposed to these harmful chemicals As a result, farmers are at increased risk for developing Parkinson’s disease.

Unnecessary Herbicide Exposures and Needless Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Of course railroads need to keep weeds out of the trackline, and farmers need to keep them at bay. But there are other ways to do this. Paraquat is banned by over 30 countries including the European Union and even China. While our focus is on benzene exposures, we can help individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease as a result of herbicide exposures. If you or a loved one has worked around pesticides and herbicides and has developed Parkinson’s disease, call 1-800-BENZENE today and speak to a lawyer.

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