Tell EPA to ban the toxic herbicide paraquat now

What's At Stake

Farmworkers and agricultural communities face an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease because of the continued use of a highly toxic herbicide called paraquat. In response to a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on behalf of farmworker, public health and environmental organizations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently reevaluating paraquat’s risks to public health and the environment.  Tell EPA to follow the science, address this public health crisis, and join more than 50 other countries worldwide in banning the use of paraquat.  

Pesticide companies and industrial agricultural operations across the U.S. expose farmworkers, nearby communities and the public to millions of pounds pesticides each year, including more than 10 million pounds of paraquat.  A single sip of paraquat can kill, and repeated exposures are linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disease with no known cure. Multiple studies have found that farmworkers who used paraquat or people who lived near the fields where it was sprayed are far more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.  Yet, despite its severe risks, paraquat use more than doubled in the United States between 2012 and 2018.   

More than 50 countries – including China, Brazil, and the members of the European Union – have banned paraquat to protect farmworkers and the broader public. However, in 2021, EPA reapproved the widespread use of paraquat for another 15 years.  

After an Earthjustice lawsuit, the EPA agreed to reconsider its analyses of paraquat’s risks and benefits, including the connection between paraquat use and Parkinson’s disease.  This reconsideration gives EPA the opportunity to correct its past mistakes and to finally protect the public from paraquat. 

However, EPA’s preliminary reconsideration continues to understate paraquat’s risks and to defends EPA’s decision to authorize paraquat’s continued use.  EPA ignored the overwhelming scientific evidence connecting paraquat exposure to Parkinson’s disease, among other flaws. EPA will be finalizing that reconsideration process by January 2025, giving the agency one more opportunity to change course and deliver needed protections for farmworkers, agricultural communities, and the environment. 

Chemical companies like Syngenta that produce paraquat are facing a surge in personal injury lawsuits claiming exposure to the pesticide caused long-term health harms. The most effective way to reduce deaths and suffering is for the EPA to ban paraquat. Alternatives for weed control exist, making the continued use of this highly toxic pesticide unnecessary.  We urge EPA to correct its flawed analysis, to accept the well-established connection between paraquat uses and Parkinson’s disease, and to finally ban paraquat.  

Chemicals being sprayed on a field of crops
A tractor sprays pesticides on crops. (sircco / Getty Images)

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