Paraquat, or Gramoxone as it is also known, is a chemical weed killer that is highly toxic. Used to control the growth of weeds and grasses, this herbicide is one of the more commonly used chemicals today. Although Paraquat is a well-known herbicide, it has been banned in many countries, including the EU and China.
However, it is still widely used in industrial and commercial agricultural activities in the United States and products like Roundup. The long-term side effects of use have led thousands of people to file lawsuits against Paraquat for Paraquat-induced illnesses and deaths.
It should only be handled by those who are properly licensed and certified in the United States due to the deadly consequences that can occur when ingested or inhaled. The side effects of Paraquat ingestion, exposure, or inhalation can be serious and usually require medical intervention.
Side Effects and Short-Term Symptoms of Exposure to Paraquat
These side effects are common within hours to a few days of exposure to significant amounts of this deadly herbicide. These include:
- Acute kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Increased blood pressure or heart rate
- Damage to the heart
- Damage to the lungs
- Fluid-filled lungs
- Respiratory failure
- Weak muscles
- Extreme fatigue and lethargy
- Nausea or vomiting
Paraquat is a dangerous and toxic chemical that can lead to long-term side effects. Paraquat exposure, no matter how brief, can be dangerous. Prolonged exposure to the industrial herbicide can cause serious health complications and has been linked to Parkinson’s.
If you suspect that you may have been in close contact with the herbicide, you need to seek medical attention immediately.
What Is Paraquat Poisoning
Paraquat is an herbicide often used by licensed farmers for weed control. It is notoriously toxic, capable of causing severe injury or death if large amounts are inhaled or ingested. As a result, it is dyed blue in order to distinguish it from other fluids and has chemicals added to make it smell bad and cause vomiting when swallowed.
Unfortunately, despite all the measures taken to prevent accidental ingestion of Paraquat, it still does occur. Patients with Paraquat poisoning typically begin to show signs of toxic effects within 30 minutes to 24 hours of Paraquat ingestion, depending on the amount that was consumed.
Symptoms range from:
- Irritation and burning sensation in the eyes and throat
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
- Dizziness and confusion
- Breathing difficulties
- Cases involving very high levels of inhaled or ingested Paraquat may even lead to:
- Pulmonary edema
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Kidney failure
- Cardiac arrest
Although fatalities resulting from Paraquat poisoning are rare in the United States, it still serves as an important reminder about the proper handling of this dangerous chemical.
If one suspects they have been exposed to Paraquat, they should seek medical care immediately as treatment can be time-sensitive in these situations.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, hospitalization might be required with supportive care such as intravenous fluids and monitoring for organ damage being provided during the course of treatment. Fortunately, low-level exposures usually do not cause permanent organ damage.
Long-Term Symptoms of Paraquat
If caught early, it is possible to survive the effects of Paraquat exposure or poisoning. However, the impact of that short-term exposure can lead to long-term effects like:
- Permanent lung damage or scarring
- Scarred esophagus, which makes swallowing difficult
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Poor fertility and sterility
- Parkinson’s disease
Can You Survive Prolonged Exposure to Paraquat?
That depends on how much of it you’ve been in contact with. Paraquat dichloride is so potent that just a small sip can kill you, let alone prolonged exposure to the compound. Unfortunately, once the compound has been ingested, there’s no antidote for Paraquat poisoning.
The people who are most at risk of being exposed to Paraquat dichloride are licensed Paraquat applicators who are in frequent contact with it. But if you live near commercial agricultural sites that use the herbicide, you may be at risk of exposure, particularly from soil run-offs.
However, as long as the exposure is minimal and you do not ingest it through the mouth, inhale copious quantities of its fumes, or dab sizable quantities onto your skin, you may be able to survive. Nevertheless, you may still experience Paraquat side effects.
Can Paraquat Cause Parkinson’s Disease?
The term “oxidative stress” describes a condition in which the body produces more oxidants than antioxidants. Overwhelmed antioxidant defenses can cause cellular damage and death when oxidant production is excessive. Additionally, oxidative stress is thought to be the primary factor that renders the widely used herbicide Paraquat effective in killing plant cells.
Furthermore, oxidative stress has been linked to several diseases and disorders, including cancer, diabetes, and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s.
Recent studies have shown a link between prolonged Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. This, in part, is probably one of the reasons why Congress has introduced the H.R.3817 bill that will lead to banning the sale, use, and reregistration of Paraquat in the United States.
In fact, a recent article claims that Syngenta, the company that manufactures Paraquat, could have tweaked the herbicide’s formula and made it safer for use. But they didn’t. If anything, they knew that their weed killer could cause Parkinson’s in farmers who were exposed to it for a long time.
Is Paraquat an Active Ingredient in Roundup Weed Killer?
No, it’s not. Although Roundup is also a herbicide that functions in a similar manner, it has its own peculiar issues and has been subject to around 125,000 lawsuits. Paraquat dichloride lawsuits are different and more recent.
If you have used both and are worried that you or your loved one may have been ill because of exposure to one or both of these weedkillers, you can discuss your case with our product liability attorneys.
What Other Products Contain Paraquat?
Paraquat is a common herbicide with a wide range of uses. However, its potential to cause harm to humans and the environment led the EPA to review its use in 2019. Based on their findings, they issued new packaging requirements and other restrictions.
As a result, Paraquat must now be sold only in packages that have accurate labeling warning consumers of its risks, though this has not stopped major companies from still using it widely.
It can currently be found under many brand names, such as:
Despite these strict regulations, various companies continue to manufacture products containing Paraquat for sale around the world. Such products include weed killers, chlorination agents for wastewater treatment plants, and even some agricultural fertilizers.
Taking into consideration both the effectiveness of using Paraquat and its potentially harmful effects, users should weigh their options carefully before deciding whether to purchase it for any purpose.
Contact a Lawyer to File a Claim for the Side Effects Caused By Exposure to Paraquat
Because a growing number of Paraquat lawsuits are being filed in multiple states across the country, the government has approved a multidistrict litigation process that makes it easy for victims to file their lawsuits. This multidistrict litigation also speeds up legal proceedings.
Contact Zanes Law today for a free consultation and learn how we can help you pursue compensation for health conditions related to your Paraquat exposure.