Paraquat Lung: Dangers & Compensation

The term “Paraquat lung” is used to describe a condition that affects the lungs after a person has been exposed to Paraquat dichloride. Paraquat lung can lead to severe respiratory damage and even death.

This herbicide is widely used in the farming industry to kill weeds and dry up crops before harvest. Paraquat is a highly toxic chemical that can cause permanent damage to major organs, including the lungs, kidneys, and intestines. 

If you have experienced Paraquat lung from exposure to this dangerous herbicide, you should consult with the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC. We are committed to providing the best possible representation to our clients involved with Paraquat lawsuits.

Our product liability attorneys have obtained over $250 million in settlements for our client’s injury cases. Call us today at (888) 424-5757, and we will schedule you with a free case review. 

Doctor looking at x-rays of patient with Paraquat lung disease

A consequence of exposure to Paraquat is a condition known as Paraquat lung.

What is Paraquat?

Paraquat is the most commonly used chemical herbicide in the US, but it is highly toxic. The chemical is typically produced in a liquid form but sold as water-soluble dichloride salt particles. 

Paraquat should always include a blue dye and a strong odor in liquid form. These two additional products are added to Paraquat as a requirement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

This chemical is prohibited from being included in products sold on the market to homeowners. It is primarily used in farming to control grass and eliminate weeds and dry crops.

The crops it is used on are mainly cotton, corn, and soybeans. Paraquat is used on crops to clear the fields when the harvest has ended.

How Paraquat Works

Paraquat works as a fast-acting chemical herbicide that is inactivated immediately after contact with soil. Therefore, there are no active remnants of the Paraquat on the soil. 

The herbicide is sprayed onto the crop or plant and will interfere with the plant’s photosynthesis process. Photosynthesis is when plants use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide. 

Paraquat absorbs the electrons and transfers them to oxygen, also known as oxidation and reduction.  

When treated with Paraquat, a plant’s electron transfer process causes the cell membrane and tissues to desiccate (drying out or removing all of the moisture). Paraquat lung undergoes a similar process. 

Paraquat is a common herbicide

How is Paraquat Sold?

The most common name that Paraquat is sold under is Gramoxone. Paraquat is sold under other brand names Parazone, Cyclone, Para-Shot, Devour, Quick-Quat, Firestorm, Bonedry, and Dexron. 

The two most well-known manufacturers producing and selling Paraquat are Chevron Chemical Company and Syngenta. Paraquat is sold to farming industry companies and commercially licensed businesses. 

Paraquat is more widely sold now because it works on glyphosate-resistant plants. Previously Roundup, which contains glyphosate as the active ingredient, was used more commonly.

Paraquat Exposure

Those who are at most at risk of Paraquat exposure are licensed applicators. Paraquat is classified as “restricted use” by the Environmental Protection Agency. Certified applicators undergo training in safety and guidelines that must be followed to use the herbicide. 

Nearby residential areas and neighboring farms that do not use Paraquat are at risk of exposure due to crop overspray and runoff. The environment and animals in the area are also at risk of Paraquat exposure. 

In the 1970s, there were cases where Paraquat was found in marijuana sprayed with the herbicide. Spraying the plant while growing was one way in which Paraquat was inhaled accidentally in the past. 

Paraquat Poisoning

In past cases, people had accidentally ingested Paraquat when it was mistaken for a drink. Because ingestion is one of the most common ways Paraquat poisoning occurs, there are strict federal guidelines for selling Paraquat. 

Among the inclusion of dye and a strong odor is the requirement to include a clear label that states that the Paraquat is toxic. The Environmental Protection Agency also enforces the rule that only licensed applicators can purchase and use Paraquat. 

The requirements and restricted use surrounding Paraquat use are put in place to ensure the safety of anyone who may come in close contact with the chemical.

Ingestion of Paraquat

When Paraquat is ingested, the effects on your body can be severe and quick. A small amount of Paraquat that is swallowed can result in kidney failure, heart failure, and even death.

An individual’s first side effects after ingestion are pain and swelling in the mouth and throat. Seek medical care immediately after ingestion of Paraquat to help prevent further damage. 

Paraquat Skin Exposure

You can experience Paraquat poisoning through skin exposure if you have cuts, rashes, a skin condition, or if the exposure lasts long enough. Seek medical attention if you have had contact with the herbicide on any part of your body. 

Wash your skin that has had contact thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible because prolonged exposure will increase the chances of poisoning. 

If your clothing has been contaminated with the chemical, you can also suffer from exposure. Remove the clothing and place it in a bag to give to the state health department or medical staff. 

Wash the area on your body with soap and water anywhere it makes contact with the contaminated clothing. 

If Paraquat comes into contact with your eyes, they can become irritated, damage your cornea, and affect your vision.

Inhalation of Paraquat and Lung Damage

Another way to experience Paraquat poisoning is through inhalation. Paraquat lung results from breathing in the herbicide, directly affecting lung tissue. 

Breathing in Paraquat is dangerous because the lungs have many surface areas and fragile tissue.  

Severe respiratory damage, including lung scarring and respiratory failure, can occur from the Paraquat exposure, resulting in Paraquat lung. The lungs’ airways and alveoli can become irritated, and fluid buildup can occur.

Symptoms From Paraquat Poisoning

Ingesting and inhaling Paraquat will cause a person to experience pain and swelling in the mouth and throat right away. A small amount of Paraquat dichloride in the body will likely experience these side effects and adverse health effects. 

Following these initial side effects from exposure, gastrointestinal symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain may occur. These side effects can lead to additional ones such as dehydration and decreased blood pressure. 

Paraquat poisoning through ingestion and inhalation can also cause mouth ulcers, abdominal pain, confusion, headaches, fever, muscle pain, shortness of breath, seizures, organ damage, and skin fissures

Paraquat exposure can also lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure, a decline in lung function, and respiratory failure. You must seek medical care if you have experienced any kind of Paraquat exposure, even if you are not experiencing any side effects. 

The initial side effects that you may experience can occur within a few hours to several weeks after exposure. You will need medical treatment that includes supportive care measures such as intravenous fluids for dehydration and possibly dialysis for kidney issues.

How Paraquat Lung Occurs

Lung tissue is severely affected by Paraquat exposure due to the number of oxygenated cells and blood supply. Similarly, when a plant undergoes the reaction process or redox from Paraquat exposure, the lungs also experience this reaction.

Paraquat lung begins when Paraquat gets into the lung tissue, damaging the mitochondria of the cells. This process creates oxidative stress leading to an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants.

The following adverse health effects can occur rapidly in a person, affect lung function, and cause permanent damage.

Conditions Involving Paraquat Lung

Besides emergency medical attention, ongoing medical treatment is essential to effectively treat the lungs and prevent permanent side effects. 

Paraquat exposure can lead to edema caused by fluid buildup in the lungs. These side effects contribute to lung damage, including scarred lungs, lesions in the lung tissue, and difficulty breathing. 

Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition where scarring of the lungs can occur within a few days from the initial Paraquat poisoning. Breathing becomes more difficult from the damage that the lung tissues have sustained over time. 

Damage and fluid can be detected through testing methods such as X-rays and High-Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) scans. HRCT scans can view the complete lung tissue and diagnose more precisely. A trained medical professional will be able to read the testing results and point out where there are possible lesions or fluid.

Paraquat Lung Treatment for Lung Damage

If you are exposed to Paraquat, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately. Severe symptoms and organ damage can occur within minutes of exposure. 

Permanent side effects to the lungs and other organs are likely to occur if a person’s Paraquat poisoning is left untreated. A person’s overall health is at higher risk when waiting to receive medical care. 

Their chance of death increases significantly the longer takes to seek treatment. Medical staff will be able to regulate your body using intravenous fluids, medications to support breathing, and other supportive care measures.

Paraquat Lawsuit Attorneys

Emergency Room Care for Paraquat Poisoning

The medical treatment patients receive at the emergency room for ingestion or inhalation of Paraquat will involve attempting to remove Paraquat particles from the body to prevent absorption into the bloodstream and lungs. The medical staff will try to remove it using gastric lavage, activated coal, or methods that will filter blood in the body. 

Paraquat lung occurs when Paraquat is carried through the bloodstream to the lungs and damages lung tissue. One treatment given to patients who have suffered Paraquat poisoning is administering activated charcoal orally or through a nasal tube. 

This treatment is given to absorb the Paraquat from the body and prevent absorption into the bloodstream carried to the lung tissue, gastrointestinal tract, and other areas.

Medical staff may also perform gastric lavage with a nasal tube to clean out any Paraquat in the stomach. Hemoperfusion is another treatment that may be performed on individuals with a large amount of Paraquat in their bodies. 

Hemoperfusion is used to filter blood using a machine with a filter made up of activated carbon. A doctor will likely prescribe medications to help raise low blood pressure and possibly dialysis for kidney failure.

How Paraquat Poisoning Affects Treatment of the Lungs

The above treatment methods to remove Paraquat from the body are beneficial to the lungs to prevent more from entering the lung tissues. Patients will usually have difficulty breathing immediately after exposure but will likely not be provided with more oxygen.

Increasing oxygen will cause more lung damage through the redox process. Doctors will usually prescribe medication to support breathing and raise low blood pressure.

The doctor might recommend a ventilator to help the patient breathe to improve the lungs’ overall condition after stabilizing Paraquat in the body. 

Those who survive Paraquat exposure will likely continue to suffer from long-term lung scarring, permanent lung damage, and difficulty breathing. There are some cases where survivors of Paraquat exposure have improved lung function after several weeks of treatment.
Consult With an Attorney To Resolve Your Chemical Injury Claim

Lung Injury Lawsuits

Currently, two popular Paraquat manufacturers face hundreds of lawsuits due to negligence. The two manufacturers are Chevron Chemical Company and Syngenta. 

Major studies show the two manufacturers were negligent in providing safety and information to their workers and others. There are cases where certified applicators have developed conditions affecting the major organs. 

Consult with an attorney to see if you can seek compensation for damages. Exposure to Paraquat can negatively affect your overall quality of life and those around you.

Seek Legal Advice on Paraquat Exposure

If you or a family member has experienced Paraquat exposure and its effects, you may be able to recover damages. There are past and future medical expenses, and loss of wages, among other losses that can be recovered from an incident of Paraquat exposure. 

The severe effects of Paraquat lung can significantly impact different aspects of your life, including your overall health. Manufacturers and commercial businesses should be held accountable for any negligence. 

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has decades of experience providing excellent results for our clients. We are committed to obtaining the compensation that you deserve for your case. 

Call us at (888) 424-5757 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys for a free consultation. We will guide you and answer any questions you may have during this difficult time. 

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.