Farmers and workers on plantations are exposed to paraquat solutions while they mix the product, fill the tank and spray it. This has acute toxic effects on their health and also entails chronic consequences.
The following acute effects occur frequently among users of paraquat:
- damage to the eye
- skin irritation or burns on various parts of the body
The symptoms of acute poisoning from paraquat are nausea, vomiting or pain, and breathing difficulties may occur after a delay of two or three days. Relatively small quantities of paraquat can cause lasting damage to health if absorbed over a lengthy period.
Chronic exposure to paraquat may:
- impair the lung function
- cause dermatoses (skin disorders)
- and lead to neurodegenerative diseases.
One study also discovered that there was an increased risk of deformities in the children of paraquat users.
Epidemiological studies showed that slight changes in the exchange of gases in the lungs and an increased risk of Parkinson's disease were observed among individuals exposed to quite small quantities of paraquat over long periods.
Animal experiments led to the discovery that paraquat damages those nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. It is known that deficient dopamine production is a key factor in the development of Parkinson's disease. Epidemiological studies emphasise a correlation between cases of Parkinson's disease and exposure to paraquat.
You can find scientific studies on health damage due to paraquat here.