Intoxication is a word that is often associated with alcohol or drugs. However, there is also a risk of intoxication for individuals who handle toxic chemicals such as herbicides. For instance, the popular herbicide paraquat can cause fatal intoxication or poisoning when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed by the skin.
Paraquat intoxication is the leading cause of pesticide-induced mortality in many countries that still heavily use paraquat in agricultural and non-agricultural settings. That’s why it comes with little surprise that the chemical has long been under scrutiny for its health effects.
In fact, thousands of plaintiffs across the United States have filed a paraquat herbicide lawsuit, claiming that long-term exposure to paraquat caused their Parkinson’s disease. The weed killer has also been controversial for its effects on animals and the environment, which had advocacy groups and environmental organizations pushing for a paraquat ban until now.
What is Paraquat intoxication?
Paraquat intoxication refers to clinically significant physical or mental symptoms following exposure to paraquat dichloride. It occurs when an individual ingests, inhales, or absorbs a lethal amount of paraquat through the skin.
Paraquat poisoning is also a growing concern in many developing countries, where it is readily available and being used by some people to commit suicide.
Can Paraquat be detected in the body?
Yes, paraquat can be detected in the body, particularly in the blood and urine. Some methods used to detect amounts of paraquat in the blood are ultraviolet spectrophotometry, chromatography, and capillary electrophoresis.
Following paraquat exposure, the highest amount of paraquat can be detected in the lung tissue of humans and animals for up to four days after ingestion.
Is there a Paraquat test kit?
Yes, there is a paraquat test kit called urinary sodium dithionite test which is available in many laboratories across the country, and some test kits can also be ordered online in different websites.
The paraquat urine detection test kit requires a person to obtain a urine sample, ideally four to six hours after suspected paraquat exposure. There are also test kits that can detect traces of paraquat in animals, water, and even fruits.
What is first aid for Paraquat exposure?
Seeking timely treatment is a key factor for surviving the permanent side effects of paraquat poisoning. But there are also things you can immediately do in case of suspected exposure to paraquat. The first aid management strategies for paraquat exposure are listed below.
- Wash the contaminated skin: If you got paraquat on your skin, wash the contaminated skin, including your hair and nails, immediately with soap and water for 15 minutes. Avoid scrubbing hard, as doing so can break your skin and let more of the paraquat enter your body through damaged skin.
- Flush your eyes with water: If paraquat got into your eyes, remove your contact lenses first if easily possible, and then flush your eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. Paraquat is severely irritating to the eyes and immediate medical attention is needed after rinsing them with plenty of water.
- Remove all contaminated clothing: Remove contaminated clothes right away if you still can, and put them in a plastic bag. Also, rinse and then wash your entire body and hair with water and soap.
- Rinse your mouth: In case of paraquat ingestion, rinse your mouth and then drink a small amount of water immediately, especially if you are still able to swallow. If it is readily available, administer activated charcoal orally as a slurry mixed with water, then seek emergency medical attention.