Paraquat is a powerful weedkiller that first became available in the 1960s.  It has been sold globally and is known by several trade names including Gramoxone.  This chemical is known to be toxic if ingested.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that one sip can be fatal and there is no antidote. More recent research has also linked exposure to Paraquat with Parkinson’s Disease.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation sent a letter to the EPA in 2017, asking the agency to consider banning the chemical, rather than the current restrictions that merely require that it only be applied by licensed contractors. The Foundation cited that the chemical was already banned by 32 countries, and gave an outline of the various research showing the links with Parkinson’s Disease.  Thus far, the EPA has not recommended banning the weed killer.

As our clients are mostly railroad workers, we were concerned. The railroad has always had a robust vegetation management plan, and we were worried that this chemical may have been used at the railroad. Unfortunately, it would appear that it has been. An article on railroad weed management in the 1970s highlighted the use of Paraquat on the railroad.

The railroad would spray the rights-of-way with various chemicals, including Paraquat. The weed spray trains would work their way throughout the various systems, putting those working on the weed spray trains – and those nearby exposed to the residual chemicals – at risk.

If you are a railroad worker who worked on or around weed-spray trains and have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, please contact us today.