The symptoms you might expect in cases of pesticide toxicity resemble other types of poisoning, but specific symptoms vary depending on the type of pesticide and the amount of exposure. According to Cornell University, the symptoms of pesticide poisoning include:
- Mild poisoning: Dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat.
- Moderate poisoning: Stomach cramps, loss of muscle coordination, trembling, confusion, difficulty breathing, and flushed or yellow skin.
- Acute (severe) poisoning: All the above symptoms of mild or moderate poisoning, as well as fever, vomiting, profuse sweating, convulsions, an inability to breathe, and loss of consciousness.
These symptoms and others can present after sudden exposure to a large quantity of pesticides or after prolonged exposure to smaller amounts of the chemical.
Children are more sensitive to pesticide exposure than adults, and animals also can experience pesticide toxicity. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning can sometimes look like common illnesses, such as food poisoning, asthma, and heat exhaustion. In any medical emergency, contact 911.
What to Do if Someone Shows Signs of Pesticide Toxicity
If someone shows symptoms that you might expect in pesticide toxicity cases, the first thing you should do is move them to another area away from anything that may have caused their exposure.
You should remove any contaminated clothing and rinse skin that comes in contact with the pesticide for 15 to 20 minutes. Immediately call the national Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or use their online help tool for further assistance.
According to the University of Missouri, healthcare providers often underdiagnose pesticide-related illnesses because of their limited training in this area. The field of clinical toxicology also experiences rapid changes, with new treatments developed all the time. If you believe your illness is related to pesticide exposure, it is important to inform your healthcare provider about any chemicals you have been in contact with.
Legal Definition of Pesticide
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains how federal law defines a pesticide as “any substance … intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.” This category includes bug repellents, algae killers used in pools and fish tanks, chemicals used to remove bathroom mold, tick and flea treatments, rodent poisons, weed killers, and more.
How to Avoid Pesticide Toxicity
The following tips and precautions can help prevent pesticide toxicity:
- Choose the correct pesticide for the job.
- Use the smallest amount of pesticide needed to complete the job.
- Read the product label and follow the directions, including wearing gloves or other recommended protective gear.
- Use products only in open, well-ventilated spaces.
- Dispose of unused products in an environmentally safe manner.
- Keep pesticides away from children and pets.
- Store products upright, in their original containers.
- If pesticides must be put in a different container:
- Never use drinking cups or bottles.
- Make sure the container is clearly labeled.
- Immediately wash hands or other skin that has come into contact with the product after use.
- Do not mix pesticides unless directed by the label to do so.
- Never use cups or utensils used for food preparation and eating to mix pesticides.
Risks of Long-Term Pesticide Exposure
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified several pesticides and herbicides as potentially cancerous to humans, including glyphosate, the active ingredient found in Roundup and other popular weed killers. Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide worldwide and has been found in our air, water, soil, and food.
Researchers have linked glyphosate to an increased risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. One study found glyphosate exposure in agriculture workers may have increased the risk by as much as 41 percent.
Pesticides also have been linked to leukemia, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and kidney cancer. Additionally, studies show the neurotoxicity of pesticides and the harm they potentially cause to cognitive ability, sensory and motor function, and nerve function. According to the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, prolonged exposure may even increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
What to Do if Pesticide Toxicity or Long-Term Exposure Harmed You
You may be entitled to seek damages through a civil lawsuit if you have suffered an illness or injury caused by pesticide poisoning or have cancer that you believe pesticides caused.
In recent years, major pesticide manufacturers have faced tens of thousands of personal injury lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who allege that exposure to their products caused their cancers. Multiple juries have awarded millions of dollars in judgments in some of these cases.
If your case qualifies, you could be eligible to seek awards for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. To learn more about your legal options, contact the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 794-0444 for a risk-free consultation.