Michael J. Fox Foundation Supports Bill to Ban Paraquat, a Chemical Linked to Parkinson’s Disease


Nobody knows the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease. However, many researchers believe that environmental triggers may play a factor. Now, the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) is encouraging American citizens to support a bill banning harmful pesticide usage. One of these, a herbicide called paraquat, raises the risk of Parkinson’s disease by 320%, shares the MJFF.


First produced for commercial use in 1961, paraquat is one of the most commonly used herbicides throughout the globe. According to the CDC, paraquat is often used to control grass and weeds.

Because of their status as commercial applicators, licensed users are most at risk of developing adverse reactions or illnesses. After ingestion, people may experience:

  • Mouth and throat swelling
  • Throat pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart, kidney, and liver failure
  • Lung fibrosis (scarring)
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Respiratory failure
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Though there is no cure for paraquat poisoning, patients may receive ventilation, dialysis, medications, and fluids. Paraquat is banned in 32 countries.


PACTA, which stands for “Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020,” was introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M) and Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO). According to the Act:

Each year, [America] uses over a billion pounds of pesticides — nearly a fifth of worldwide use.  Approximately one-third of annual U.S. pesticide use — over 300 million pounds from 85 different pesticides — comes from pesticides that are banned in the European Union.

In addition to banning paraquat, PACTA hopes to ban neonicotinoid and organophosphate insecticides. Through the Act, the legislators hope to:

[restore] balance to protect ordinary citizens by creating a petition process to enable individual citizens to petition the EPA, closing dangerous loopholes that have allowed the EPA to issue emergency exemptions, enabling local communities to enact protective legislation without being vetoed by state law, [and] suspending pesticides deemed unsafe by the E.U. or Canada until thoroughly reviewed by the EPA.

As the first potential change in pesticide-related legislation since 1996, this Act would also protect those on the frontlines of pesticide exposure, such as children, consumers, and farm workers.

MJFF Support for Paraquat Ban

Ronald Zane was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014. For 22 years prior, Ronald worked for Paia, Hawaii’s Parks & Recreation department. Through this, he was often exposed to pesticides. When talking to MJFF, his son Edwin notes:

“Pesticides and other chemicals get into the soil…into the water. This is not just a farmer or blue-collar working issue.”

The MJFF’s Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council already asked the EPA to ban the pesticide. Additionally, they submitted a petition with over 100,000 signatures.

Read the source article here.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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