Paraquat is a toxic chemical introduced in 1961 as an herbicide, and it remains widely used for weed control. Though it has been banned in 32 countries around the world, it remains in use in the US. In the United States, paraquat comes in liquid form, and due to its toxicity, it is only available for use by commercially licensed users, with nearly 11 million pounds of it sprayed on crops each year.
How might you have been exposed to Paraquat?
Licensed applicators of paraquat, those who spray it as an herbicide, are the most at-risk group, with common forms of exposure being ingestion, inhalation, and skin contact. Paraquat mixes easily with food and beverages, and though some additives exist to induce color and flavor changes in the chemical to make it unpalatable, it is still possible to ingest it, especially if you have worked around it. In cases of skin exposure, poisoning is more likely to occur the longer it remains on the skin, if it is a concentrated dose, or if the skin is broken due to sores and cuts. In cases where it is inhaled, lung damage may result.
What injuries result from Paraquat?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ingestion of small to medium amounts of paraquat may lead to development of the following adverse health effects within several days to several weeks:
The CDC also notes that ingestion of large amounts of paraquat leads to the following signs/symptoms within a few hours to a few days:
Acute Kidney failure
Fast heart rate
Injury to the heart
Lung scarring (evolves more quickly than when small to medium amounts have been ingested)
Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
Respiratory (breathing) failure, possibly leading to death
These are only short-term signs that develop. Long-term health effects include kidney and heart failure, long-term lung damage, esophageal damage, and Parkinson’s Disease, which is a nervous system disorder affecting movement.
Filing a lawsuit for Paraquat Injuries
If you or a loved one have been exposed to and injured by paraquat, it is possible to file a lawsuit. People who may qualify for these claims include agricultural workers (farmers, growers, pickers, landscapers, and licensed paraquat sprayers), anyone who lives near farmland that has been sprayed with paraquat, and anyone who works around commercial weed killers, pesticides, and herbicides.
Proving paraquat exposure can be simple or difficult, depending on the context, but it is important to establish the link between exposure and the symptoms you are experiencing. For workers with direct exposure to paraquat, it can be assumed that they knew what chemicals they were using since they must be licensed. But those who live near farms may be ignorant of the cause of their ailments. If you are an agricultural worker, a mixer of herbicides, an herbicide applicator, or live in a rural area or near a farm, and you have developed any of the symptoms listed above it is important to get in touch with a defective products attorney who can investigate and determine a link between your injuries and chemical exposure.