(Beyond Pesticides, February 12, 2018) The most recent findings on the development of Parkinson’s disease after exposure to the highly toxic paraquat add to the well-established body of scientific literature linking the herbicide to Parkinson’s — which should lead to finally eliminating the use of the herbicide in the U.S. The chemical was banned in the European Union in 2007, and many health groups, including Beyond Pesticides and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, are calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop the use of paraquat by denying its upcoming reregistration.
In addition to its connection with Parkinson’s disease, paraquat is known to be highly acutely toxic. By generating free radicals, it essentially burns its way through the body, targeting the lungs —causing lung fibrosis— and other organs. Most acutely toxic exposures result in death, sometimes delayed by as much as three weeks.
Although paraquat is a restricted use pesticide (RUP), EPA is proposing to eliminate the minimum age for applying RUPs, which would permit teenagers to use it.
Tell EPA and Congress to ban paraquat! This link will send the following message to EPA and your Congressional delegation:
I urge EPA to join other countries in banning the use of paraquat.
Recent research confirms paraquat’s link to Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease, which affects an estimated 750,000 to one million Americans, is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder caused by a loss of neurons and dopamine, the neurotransmitter they produce. There is currently no cure or therapy to slow, stop, or reverse the progression of the disease.
Research linking Parkinson’s disease with exposure to paraquat has been mounting for years. Last month, in the journal Cell Reports (Chinta, et al.) reported that exposure to paraquat induces senescence of cells (loss of the cells’ power), which may account for paraquat’s neurotoxicity. Other recent studies show:
- exposure to paraquat increases the likelihood of Parkinson’s disease;
- the effect is dose dependent; and
- the risk increases when combined with other factors, such as genetic disposition and exposure to other pesticides.
The economic — and emotional — costs of living with Parkinson’s are too high to allow the continued use of a chemical so strongly linked to the disease. The cost of providing care in the U.S. for a person with Parkinson’s is conservatively $26,400 per year, resulting in an annual economic burden of $19.8 to $26.4 billion.
In addition, paraquat’s acute toxicity has long been a concern. There is no antidote, and paraquat causes thousands of deaths annually, mostly by pulmonary fibrosis. By generating free radicals, it essentially burns its way through the body, targeting the lungs and other organs. Most acutely toxic exposures result in death, sometimes delayed as much as three weeks.
Please join with 32 other countries in banning the use of this dangerous pesticide.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.