Paraquat is a highly toxic herbicide used in commercial farming. Agricultural workers are at the highest risk of exposure to this product, but others who live near commercial farms can suffer some of the side effects from chronic exposure. One of those side effects is Parkinson’s disease.
If you or a loved one suffers from Parkinson’s disease because of Paraquat exposure, contact a Paraquat injury attorney at The Law Office of George Salinas for a free case evaluation. You may recover compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages.
Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease
The European Union and China have banned Paraquat, but not the United States. The Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council has found a significantly increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease—up to 320 percent higher than the general public—for those who were chronically exposed to the agent. Even with the evidence showing that Paraquat increases the chances of developing Parkinson’s disease, the EPA recently reapproved the use of this poison on farms in the United States.
This herbicide was first used in 1961. Its full name is paraquat dichloride. Farmers use it to prevent grass and weed growth near their crops. Because this chemical is highly poisonous, you need a special license to use it. The manufacturer also adds a blue dye to it to make sure people can tell that they shouldn’t ingest it.
Exposure to Paraquat
The most common way to get poisoned by paraquat is by ingesting it. However, it does have a blue dye, a bad odor, and a vomiting agent mixed into it. This prevents people from mistaking it for a safe beverage or mixing it with food or drink.
This herbicide can also poison people via skin exposure, but this usually happens after long-term exposure or exposure to a concentrated version of the chemical. It can also cause poisoning in a shorter time if it gets into an open wound.
Inhaling paraquat causes lung damage. You might inhale it if marijuana contains the herbicide. Some marijuana in the United States contains paraquat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The DEA used it in the 1970s to kill illicit marijuana crops. Reports surfaced that marijuana sprayed with paraquat made it to the street, where people bought and consumed it.
Those who are licensed to use paraquat are at a higher risk of exposure.
The poisoning severity depends on:
- The amount ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin or an open wound.
- Your general health when you were exposed to paraquat.
- Whether paraquat comes into direct contact with open wounds or the lining of your mouth, stomach, and intestines.
Once ingested, inhaled, or absorbed, this toxic chemical can affect all parts of your body, but especially the liver, kidneys, and lungs.
Symptoms of Paraquat Exposure
The symptoms of paraquat exposure depend on how much and in what way you ingest or absorb it. If you ingest a large amount, your mouth and throat may swell and become painful.
Additional symptoms can include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Abdominal pain.
- Diarrhea, which could be bloody.
- Decreased sodium and potassium production.
- Low blood pressure.
- Acute kidney failure.
- Liver failure.
- Lung scarring.
- Weak muscles.
- Heart injury.
- A fast heart rate.
- Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
- Respiratory failure.
If you ingest small amounts, symptoms may develop more slowly.
You might see symptoms such as:
- Lung scarring.
- Kidney failure.
- Liver failure.
- Heart failure.
Those who ingested large amounts of paraquat may not survive. Those who ingest or absorb small to medium amounts may need to live with the effects of organ damage and lung scarring for life.
Steps to Take After Paraquat Exposure
If you ingested paraquat, seek medical attention immediately.
If you got paraquat on your clothes or skin, immediately remove your clothing. Don’t pull it over your head—instead, cut it off to minimize exposure. Using large amounts of soap and water, wash your entire body to remove the chemical.
If you got paraquat in your eyes, rinse them with plain water for at least 10 minutes, but preferably 15 minutes. Discard any contact lenses that were exposed to paraquat. If your glasses got paraquat on them, clean them with soap and water. You can put them back on after you clean them.
Disposal of Clothing and Other Items with Paraquat on Them
Do not touch your clothing with your bare hands once you get it off and have cleaned yourself up. Using gloves, tongs, or a stick, put the clothing in a plastic zipper bag and seal it. Put that bag into another plastic zipper bag. Also, put anything that touches the contaminated clothing in the bag.
Call emergency personnel and the state health department. They will take the plastic bags with the clothing to properly dispose of it, and the emergency personnel may administer medical treatment to you depending on your level of exposure. Do not dispose of the clothing yourself.
Hospital Care After Paraquat Poisoning
As of early 2021, there is no cure or antidote for paraquat poisoning. The hospital may try to remove paraquat from your system with Fuller’s earth or activated charcoal or nasogastric suction if you get to the hospital within an hour of ingesting it. Doctors will give supportive care, including IV fluids, blood pressure medication, dialysis if your kidneys fail, and ventilator support if needed. However, excessive oxygen makes paraquat toxicity worse.
Contact The Law Offices of George Salinas
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of paraquat exposure, contact The Law Offices of George Salinas for a free case evaluation or call us at (210) 225-0909. Our personal injury attorneys handle all of our paraquat lawsuits on a contingency fee basis, so there is no fee for our services unless we win your case.
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