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Safe Pesticide Storage and Disposal

  • A 70-year-old female ingested some contents of a re-used iced tea bottle that contained paraquat, unknown to her. She went to the hospital awake and alert with persistent vomiting. Over the course of a 16-day admission, she displayed the classic picture of paraquat ingestion: corrosive gastrointestinal injury plus kidney and respiratory failure leading to death.
  • An 89-year-old man unknowingly ingested a pesticide that was improperly stored in a sports drink bottle. He spat the liquid out after tasting it, but shortly fell ill. By the time he was seen at the hospital, he had symptoms that included dizziness, vomiting, shakiness, pinpoint pupils, excessive secretions, shortness of breath, and pulmonary edema. He was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and spent 40 days in the hospital.
  • A 44-year-old male mistakenly drank paraquat, which he thought was fruit juice. He developed difficulty breathing and vomited blood. He was admitted to the hospital intensive care unit where he died after 20 days of aggressive treatment.
  • An 8-year-old boy drank paraquat that had been put in a Dr. Pepper bottle, which he found on a window sill in the garage. He died in the hospital 16 days later. His older brother had used the product on weeds around the house and put it in the bottle in the garage. The older brother obtained the product from a family friend who is a certified Restricted Use Pesticide applicator.
  • A 49-year-old male took a sip from his coffee cup in which he had poured paraquat because the product’s bottle was deteriorating. He realized his mistake and went to the Emergency Department. At that time, he was vomiting, cold and sweating profusely. Doses of activated charcoal were administered and his stomach was pumped; morphine was provided for esophageal pain; and he was intubated to support breathing function on the fourth day. Aggressive supportive care continued until he died on the tenth day.
  • A 15-month-old boy ingested paraquat that had been transferred into a Gatorade container and stored inappropriately. The boy survived in the hospital for 13 days after the ingestion and received aggressive treatment but died after suffering acute kidney and liver failure.
  • An 18-month-old boy ingested an unknown amount of paraquat solution from a bottle found in his father’s landscaping truck. He received multiple-dose activated charcoal treatment two hours after the ingestion. He suffered from lack of oxygen during the first 24 hours followed by progressive liver, kidney, and cardio-pulmonary dysfunction. The boy died 11 days after the ingestion.

The World Health Organization estimates about one million people are unintentionally poisoned by pesticides annually resulting in nearly 20,000 deaths. While the majority of these cases are in developing countries, too many of the accidents happen in the United States. One of the major contributing factors behind many of the poisonings is improper labeling and storage. This month’s Safety Alert offers tips on what you can do to ensure your chemicals do not end up where they don’t belong.