Railway Workers and Parkinson’s Disease

Railway workers are at a considerably greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The reason for this is that, historically, they have endured frequent exposure to chemicals that are known to cause Parkinson’s disease, such as welding fumes, chlorinated solvents, and herbicides. Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease does not typically happen until several years after workers have been exposed.  Railway workers who have been formally diagnosed with Parkinson’s have three years from the day they were diagnosed, or, in some cases, three years from when they found out about the link between their job and the disease, to file a lawsuit.  

What chemicals can cause Parkinson’s disease?

The Virginia railway accident attorneys from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been seeing successful results in their railway injury cases for nearly four decades. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your FELA claim. 

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Railway Workers and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the nervous system and the areas of the body controlled by nerves. It is degenerative and incurable. There are some methods of treatment that have been proven to proper significantly decrease its symptoms. In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms are hardly noticeable but, as time goes on, they become progressively worse.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s

The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Tremors (a rhythmic shaking movement in one or more body parts)
  • Delayed movement
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Unable to stand up straight/Problems with balance
  • A significant change in handwriting
  • Inability to smell
  • Sleeping issues, such as insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Sudden changes in speech patterns
  • Hypomimia/Facial masking
  • Fainting or dizzy spells

Other Neurological Injuries

Parkinson’s is just one of the many brain injuries and neurological disorders that affect railway workers. Many of them have developed other neurological disorders like toxic encephalopathy, a form of brain dysfunction caused by toxic exposure. The problem is so pervasive that millions of dollars in compensation have been awarded to railway workers who have been diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy and other neurological damage. As the medical associations between Parkinson’s and the worker’s exposures to welding fumes, herbicides, and chlorinated solvents strengthen, litigation in this area is going to increase dramatically. 

Which Railroad Herbicides Have Been Linked to Parkinson’s?

More than one chemical commonly used on railroads has been linked to Parkinson’s, including:


Paraquat has been linked to Parkinson’s for more than a decade. A study published in 2009 by the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that being within 1,600 feet of Paraquat exposure increased a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by about 75%. Those who were under 60 years old were discovered to be at a much higher risk. Paraquat is regularly used in scientific research to cause and study Parkinson’s disease in animals. 

2,4-D and Parkinson’s

Another immensely popular herbicide used by railways is 2,4-D, also known as amine. 2,4-D has been widely used since 1945 and like Paraquat, it is both cheap and effective. In fact, 2,4-D was one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange, the herbicide and tactical use chemical that was created by Monsanto and used indiscriminately during the Korean and Vietnam wars. And, while certainly the most notorious, it was far from the sole abomination of its kind. These chemicals, known as the Rainbow Herbicides, were used as weapons of war for more than a decade. 

Speak to an Experienced Lawyer Today  

Railroad companies have virtually unlimited resources. They are willing to do whatever it takes to minimize their liability and reduce your financial compensation. The Virginia railway injury attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have successfully handled hundreds of cases for injured railroad workers and their families. If you suspect that your illness is related to your exposure to herbicides, solvents, or welding fumes while you were employed by a rail company, call (833) 997-1774 to schedule your free consultation today. 

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