LinkedIn Legal Examiner

2021-12-15 00:22:05 By : Mr. Bo WU

Paraquat is a popular herbicide (herbicide and herbicide) developed in the 1960s and is still used in commercial agriculture and agriculture in the United States. It is estimated that more than 8 million pounds of herbicides are used each year. However, paraquat, also known as the generic brand Gramoxone, is banned in more than 30 countries around the world due to its extreme toxicity. Inhalation, ingestion or absorption of even small amounts of toxic products can cause serious lifelong health problems, and in many cases, can lead to rapid and painful death. 

Farmers and other agricultural workers who must obtain approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to use paraquat are at the highest risk of paraquat poisoning. It is usually a coffee-colored liquid, and if it is not dyed blue correctly to separate it, anyone may accidentally ingest it. 

What happens if you or someone you know comes into contact with or is poisoned with paraquat?

Recognizing signs of exposure to paraquat is crucial. Because the devastating effects will happen very quickly, and there is no antidote. If a person has been around paraquat and begins to show any of the following symptoms, unless you seek urgent care immediately, it is likely to cause permanent injury or death.

If someone survives paraquat poisoning, they are likely to suffer some kind of permanent health damage, especially if they consume large amounts of paraquat. This includes possible heart, kidney or liver failure, lung scarring, and difficulty or inability to swallow. If treated in time, some patients who only ingest a small amount may fully recover. 

The most common diagnostic method for paraquat exposure is blood and urine testing in the hospital. Urine tests can determine conditions such as dehydration and kidney function, while blood tests can reveal the extent of damage to all organs.

The sample should be obtained as soon as possible after the initial contact. For urinalysis, the laboratory technician will put approximately 10 milliliters of urine in a container containing 2 grams of sodium bicarbonate, and then shake them together. Then add one gram of sodium dithionite and shake again. When everything is ready, the sample will be viewed against a white background. If the sample turns blue or gray-green, confirm the presence of paraquat.

Other tests may include a chest X-ray, an electrocardiogram (on your heart), or bronchoscopy/endoscopy, which involves inserting a tube into the mouth and throat to assess damage to the lungs, esophagus, and stomach.

Researchers have also tried other diagnostic methods. This year, a new study successfully combined metabolomics (small cell) technology with AI (machine learning) to achieve more accurate diagnosis. 

Once paraquat poisoning is confirmed, the key is to remove it from your system as soon as possible. Activated carbon can prevent absorption, which may be the first step. If the paraquat is exposed for less than an hour, your doctor may use a tube inserted through your nose and mouth to suck out the paraquat. 

If the damage is extensive, or if you have not been exposed to paraquat for a long time, you may receive hemoperfusion and try to filter the blood through charcoal. If you have difficulty breathing, you may also receive intravenous medications and fluids, dialysis for kidney failure, and a ventilator. Over time, more symptoms may appear, and your doctor will treat them when they appear. 

It is rare for you to fully recover from paraquat poisoning, unless you only ingest a small amount. There is likely to be some degree of permanent damage. Your healthcare provider will do everything possible to relieve symptoms and reduce further complications.

Disturbing evidence of the link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson's disease has accumulated for a long time. Syngenta, the leading U.S. manufacturer of paraquat, continues to be hit by more lawsuits because agricultural workers are developing Parkinson's disease after years of working closely with herbicides. Although the EPA found "insufficient evidence" linking paraquat to Parkinson's disease "when used as labelled", a number of high-profile studies have found a strong correlation. A study determined that workers who mixed or used paraquat had a 200% increased risk of Parkinson's disease, which was shocking. 

Syngenta firmly rejected these claims in its public documents. Nevertheless, the pre-trial findings indicate that the company and previous paraquat manufacturers are fully aware of the lethality of this substance.

In June of this year, more than 150 cases related to paraquat and Parkinson's disease were merged into inter-district litigation (MDL), which means that one court will be responsible for all pre-trial procedures. Each plaintiff is scheduled to appear in court next year, and victims can receive compensation for loss of income, medical expenses, and physical and psychological pain. Hundreds of lawsuits are still pending.

Another group of workers has filed a lawsuit with the EPA. Although paraquat is well known for its toxicity, it has recently re-approved the commercial use of paraquat.