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What’s the Difference Between Paraquat and Glyphosate?

Published on Nov 23, 2021 at 8:29 am in Product Liability.

Tractor spraying herbicide

Two popular weed killers—Paraquat and glyphosate (better known as Roundup) are currently being heavily scrutinized by medical and legal experts in the U.S. due to hundreds of individuals and family members who are coming forward with diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease and cancer, namely non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Evidence so far has shown that there are links between exposure to each of the herbicides and the diseases that those coming forward have been diagnosed with. As a result, individuals are now able to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of both.

Given the timing of both lawsuits, it’s easy to understand why there may be some confusion about the two different herbicides and the legal action that is being taken against each manufacturer. Today we’re looking at the differences between Paraquat and glyphosate and what your legal options may be if you or a loved one has been exposed to either chemical and suffered from a diagnosis or symptoms.

Paraquat and Glyphosate: Two Different Herbicides

The most important thing to know about Paraquat and glyphosate is that they are actually two different types of herbicides (weed killers). They contain different chemicals. Paraquat is the most popular brand name for the herbicide called paraquat dichloride. Glyphosate, on the other hand, is the name of the main chemical in weaker herbicides like Roundup. There are other herbicides on the market that contain glyphosate, but Roundup is the most popular. Roundup is the brand name being targeted by most lawsuits focused on glyphosate.

While both chemicals are poisonous if ingested or inhaled, Paraquat is significantly more poisonous than glyphosate. In fact, it was found to be 28 times more acutely toxic than glyphosate in one study. Because of its toxicity, Paraquat is banned in over 30 countries in the world. It isn’t banned here in the United States yet, but it is restricted to commercial use only. Glyphosate has no restrictions on it, and anyone can purchase it, including homeowners. The toxicity of glyphosate to humans is considered much lower.

In the U.S., Paraquat is sold with a blue dye in it to make it more noticeably different from other liquids. It also has a sharp odor to it and has an added agent in it to induce vomiting immediately if ingested. Paraquat from outside of the U.S. may not have these agents added to it, and most forms of glyphosate do not as well.

Many farmers use both chemicals in some fashion to treat weeds and unwanted vegetation. Glyphosate is often used as a first resort since it’s less toxic, but over time, some weeds become resistant to glyphosate. When this occurs, farmers will often switch to Paraquat or use both together. Paraquat is also often used to clear fields completely of vegetation in between seasons or to kill whole fields of illegal marijuana when fields of it are found.

How Lawsuits Against Glyphosate and Paraquat Differ

As mentioned above, both herbicides are being targeted by class action/multidistrict litigation lawsuits currently in the U.S. However, the lawsuits are very different.

For Paraquat, over 300 legal actions are currently pending against Syngenta, the main manufacturer of the chemical (there are others as well—see a full list here). The lawsuits are part of a multidistrict litigation, which is a consolidation of cases across multiple states and jurisdictions. The lawsuits claim that there is strong evidence showing links between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. Studies have been done since 2017 detailing the effects exposure has on the brain and how those effects mirror the first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

For glyphosate, over $11 billion has already been paid to plaintiffs (individuals who have filed a claim) who were exposed to Roundup and have suffered from symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). NHL is a cancer that starts in the body’s immune system, within white blood cells. The lawsuits were brought up against Bayer and Monsanto, the two most common manufacturers of Roundup and other brands of glyphosate-based herbicides. More lawsuits are currently being organized into class actions.

As you can see, the two lawsuits are in different processes of completion, but both are current. The other major difference is the fact that while both chemicals are herbicides, they are known to cause different issues to the body when the body suffers from prolonged exposure to the herbicide. For this reason, what type of lawsuit someone will be able to potentially file will entirely depend on the chemical they had exposure to and what their symptoms and/or diagnoses are.

Both lawsuits similarly target the herbicide’s manufacturer and claim that the manufacturer was negligent by not testing the herbicide enough to know the risks of prolonged exposure as well as not properly warning consumers about the risks of developing a debilitating disease if they were exposed to the chemical. The creators of dangerous chemicals should do everything they can to keep users safe. Right now, in fact, the manufacturer of Paraquat is continuing to place users at risk by not taking the product off the market for further tests or to ensure stronger warnings are put into place.

How Frost Law Firm Can Help Victims of Paraquat Exposure

At Frost Law Firm PC, we are dedicated to helping those who have been harmed or have suffered due to the negligence of major corporations. We are currently seeking individuals and families of anyone who has been exposed to Paraquat and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or believes they may have the symptoms. By taking part in the multidistrict litigation against Syngenta, you may be able to receive compensation that can go towards medical bills, loss of wages, and other recovery-associated costs.

To learn how we may be able to help, please get in touch with our law firm today. Regardless of where you live in the United States, we may be able to help you file a claim. To learn more about Paraquat litigation, you can also check out our recent blog with case updates here.

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