EPA to Reconsider Common Herbicide Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

Dozens of countries have banned paraquat because of its toxicity to the human nervous system and other health risks


Zahra Ahmad, zahmad@earthjustice.org, (517) 898-0924

A federal appeals court yesterday granted the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) request to reconsider evidence that a commonly used herbicide, paraquat, causes brain damage and other harm.

The request comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of farmworker, public health, and environmental organizations challenging EPA’s July 2021 decision approving continued paraquat use. Approximately 50 countries have banned paraquat because of its severe health risks, but in the United States, more than 8.5 million pounds of paraquat are used on cotton, soybeans, grapes, and other crops each year. Farmworkers are particularly exposed to the toxin and face an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and other severe health impacts.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA’s unopposed request to place that case on hold while the agency reconsiders its paraquat risk assessments and registration. EPA intends to release new analyses of paraquat’s risks and to assess potential changes to its registration over the next two years.

The following is a statement from Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Earthjustice senior attorney:

“With paraquat banned in dozens of countries, there is no reason to allow it to continue to harm farmworkers and agricultural communities here. EPA must use this opportunity to do what it should have done years ago and take this highly toxic herbicide off the market once and for all.”

Earthjustice represents Petitioners California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, Farmworker Association of Florida, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Farmworker Justice, Alianza Nacional De Campesinas, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Biological Diversity, and Toxic Free North Carolina in the lawsuit challenging EPA’s paraquat registration.

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