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Signs & symptoms of weed killer poisoning

Updated March 23, 2017

Weed killers, or herbicides, can be potentially dangerous to humans if they are inhaled or ingested. The chemicals that are especially dangerous include pyrethins, carbamates, organophospates and paradichlorobenzenes. They can also be irritating to the eyes and skin. They can also have adverse effects on the respiratory and nervous systems. Potentially, weed killer poisonings can be fatal if not treated promptly.

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Pyrethrin Poisoning Symptoms

Pyrethin poisoning can cause breathing difficulties. Individuals exposed to pyrethrins often begin sneezing and coughing shortly after inhalation. If it gets on the skin, irritation can occur. The skin may become red and inflamed. The skin might itch or be painful. In large amounts pyrethrin poisoning can cause convulsions and lead to coma.

Carbamate or Organophosate Poisoning Symptoms

Initially, this type of poisoning can cause watery eyes and excess salivation. Breathing difficulties often occur. Individuals affected by these poisons sometimes experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. In addition, the fingernails and lips can become blue. The peerson might develop a headache and feel both dizzy and weak. They might also experience anxiety, convulsions and possibly slip into a coma. Organophosphate is especially dangerous because it can be easily absorbed through the skin and cause paralysis and death in a short period of time.

Paradichlorobenzene Poisoning Symptoms

This type of poisoning can also cause breathing problems and coughing. It can cause headaches, weakness and slurred speech. The inside of the mouth might have a burning sensation. Nausea and abdominal pain can also occur. Vomiting and diarrhoea sometimes follow.

Possible Lasting Effects

A severe poisoning can lead to lasting effects that can cause serious problems over time. Some individuals experience recurring skin rashes. Others develop anaemia or coagulation disorders. Severe poisoning can lead to permanent paralysis or brain damage. Poison inhalation can lead to respiratory problems such as emphysema or asthma. Problems such as jaundice can affect the liver and kidney failure might possibly result.


Wash the chemical off your face and eyes with water for a minimum of 15 minutes. Call for help if symptoms begin to occur. Either call 9-1-1 or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If you are taken to the hospital, bring the weed killer container with you. Hospital treatment can include medications to address symptoms, IV fluids, skin washing and gastric lavage, which is a procedure used to wash out the interior of the stomach.

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About the Author

Based in Laurel, Miss., Melody Morgan Hughes covers topics related to education, money and health. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English education from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Master of Education from William Carey University and a Master of Education from Nova Southeastern University.

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