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How Dangerous is Paraquat?


Paraquat is an herbicide – a weed killer – that has been commonly used for many years.  Unfortunately, this chemical is fairly toxic and can lead to health and safety concerns.

Generally, paraquat is poisonous and can cause serious health concerns after being ingested – which can happen by breathing in sprays or otherwise getting any on your tongue or in your mouth.  Ingesting even small amounts can lead to organ failure (primarily in the heart, kidneys, and liver).  If you do survive exposure, you could be left with long-term health consequences like long-term organ failure, lung scarring, and potentially even Parkinson’s disease.

If you have been exposed to or ingested paraquat and suffered negative health consequences, call the Baltimore personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today at (410) 694-7291.

Is Paraquat Exposure Bad for Your Health?

In general, simple exposure to paraquat might not be dangerous.  Getting it on your hands or skin is not recommended, but the main health risks from paraquat come from ingestion, not contact.  Many people who work with paraquat in agricultural work might face a higher risk of exposure and could easily get paraquat in their mouth while working outside with it.  If that happens, you could get extremely sick quite fast, so you should always work to avoid exposure and treat ingestion immediately.

In general, paraquat is restricted to use by licensed professionals, so most homeowners and home gardeners do not have access to this chemical precisely because it is so dangerous.  It is even dyed blue to help keep people from accidentally consuming it.  For more details about paraquat, what it is used for, and how it can harm you, you can review the CDC’s fact page on the topic (which supplied much of the information for this article).

If you faced injuries similar to those listed here and on the CDC’s website, you might have suffered the effects of paraquat poisoning.  Talk to our paraquat poisoning attorneys for help determining how you were exposed and how that exposure might have been related to an employer’s negligence.  Especially if you did not work with paraquat but nonetheless faced exposure symptoms, talk to an attorney about suing local lawn care or agricultural businesses that might have caused your exposure or ingestion.

What Paraquat Can Do to Your Body

Ingesting paraquat can be poisonous and have immediate health consequences.  First, inhaling the chemical (which is usually diluted to lower its strength) can be harmful to your lungs and cause damage to the interior surface of your lungs, resulting in scarring.  Getting the paraquat into your system and into your bloodstream can have further consequences.

Many people who accidentally ingest paraquat end up facing damage to their heart, liver, or kidneys.  The heart cannot handle poisonous chemicals reaching it, and the liver and kidneys often face damage when they are forced to filter out toxic or poisonous substances.  As your body deals with the paraquat in your system, your heart might race, you could be confused or faint, you might face trouble breathing, and you could even face seizures or a coma.

Long-term effects are typically related to the initial acute symptoms, such as long-term organ failure in the affected organs, lung scarring, and so forth.  Paraquat has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease in some cases.

In general, quick treatment with activated charcoal or induced vomiting can help keep your body from taking in the paraquat and reduce the effects of ingestion.  Quick medical treatment is also important.  If you received immediate care and ingested only a small amount of paraquat, you could be okay, but high quantities of paraquat are often deadly.

Suing for Paraquat Poisoning

As mentioned above, most people are exposed to or ingest paraquat because they work with the chemical.  However, people can be exposed in other ways as well, such as from local spraying or runoff water.  In many cases, you can file a lawsuit against negligent parties, and you should speak with our Ocean City personal injury attorneys about how to do so.

Suing an Employer

Employers are typically required to follow OSHA regulations and state rules for worker safety.  When they fail to provide safety gear like goggles and facemasks, or when they allow workers to use paraquat without proper training or supervision, workers can be seriously injured.

If you were exposed to paraquat at work, you might not be able to file a lawsuit, depending on your state’s Workers’ Compensation rules.  If a lawsuit is permitted, you might be entitled to higher damages than through a Workers’ Compensation claim.  Talk to our paraquat poisoning attorneys for more details.

Many states have exceptions to Workers’ Compensation rules for independent contractors and agricultural workers that allow them to always file a lawsuit against their employer for on-the-job injuries.

Suing a Lawn Care or Agricultural Company

If a nearby lawn care company or agricultural producer used paraquat and that paraquat made its way into your body, they could be responsible for negligence.  Landscapers and lawn care services must take reasonable precautions when spraying paraquat, such as watching out for children, other people, and pets in the vicinity.  Usually, paraquat is not allowed in residential areas, which means that you are unlikely to be exposed because of spraying in your yard or neighborhood.  However, this means that if a lawn care service did use paraquat in a residential area when they were barred from doing so, they would likely be found negligent.

Paraquat is commonly used in agriculture, but the opportunity for exposure is still quite limited for non-workers.  Water runoff can potentially contain paraquat at unsafe levels, but it is also unlikely that that would lead to ingestion.

Even so, if you were exposed to paraquat as someone who does not work with the chemical, call our Pasadena personal injury lawyers for help determining who was responsible for your poisoning.

Suing a Paraquat Manufacturer or Seller

Since paraquat is so heavily restricted and the bottles it is sold in often have warning labels that deter misuse and warn of the risks of ingestion, it might be difficult to sue a manufacturer.  However, it is possible that manufacturers knew of injury risks (such as the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease) that were not included on warning labels.  Talk to our paraquat poisoning attorneys about suing manufacturers for these kinds of issues.

If you were given paraquat by a third-party seller who re-labeled paraquat or someone who did not take reasonable steps to check whether you were licensed nor to warn you of the risks of using paraquat, they could be responsible for your exposure.

Call Our Paraquat Poisoning Attorneys Today

If you were injured from ingestion of or exposure to paraquat, call our Maryland personal injury attorneys today for a free case review.  Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 today.