Agriculture is a big part of Mississippi’s economy. Thousands of workers make a living in the industry, growing the crops we need to help feed people throughout the region. Recently, many of these workers have expressed concern over an herbicide that is outlawed in many countries, but legal here in the United States.
Paraquat, the chemical in question, is applied to help kill weeds that may grow in soybean fields, as well as fields containing other crops. The chemical may be sprayed by hand-held devices or dropped from planes that fly over fields. It is extremely toxic, and even with strict precautions in place, exposure is common for those who must administer paraquat in designated areas.
Many of these workers are reporting that they have symptoms that are associated with Parkinson’s, and attribute this to the use of the herbicide. They also are suffering from other conditions, such as irritation of the skin and eyes, as well as other allergic reactions.
The EPA recently studied paraquat, and determined that it was still allowed to be used as an herbicide in the U.S., without any sort of permits required. They have directed those administering the product to try to limit potential contact with individuals to limit any harm that the chemical may cause. This is a different process than in other countries, such as those in the European Union, that ban the use of paraquat as an herbicide.
Those who work in the agricultural industry and have been in frequent contact with paraquat should be paying close attention to their health. If they notice any adverse conditions or reactions after being exposed to paraquat, they should see a doctor as soon as possible. They may also wish to speak to an attorney to see if they are able to join one of the many class actions against the manufacturers of the chemical.