In California alone, there were more than 1,400 cases of accidental poisonings during 1998-2009 caused by storage of non-food substances in soda bottles, unmarked bottles, cups or glasses. The accidental ingestion of the pesticide, Paraquat dichloride, caused several of those deaths.
Paraquat dichloride, commonly referred to as “paraquat,” is an herbicide used to control weeds in many agricultural and non-agricultural areas. It can be applied as a pre-harvest desiccant on some crops such as cotton.
All paraquat products are Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs). These products can only be sold to and used by certified applicators. There are no homeowner uses and these products should not be accessible to the general public, yet the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported 50 deaths from paraquat. At least 12 deaths were from accidental ingestion of the pesticide from a beverage container.
Paraquat is highly toxic.
Just ONE small sip can be fatal. And there is no antidote.
The accidental ingestion of this chemical is a major concern as there are unmistakable warning labels on the product that prohibit pouring paraquat into food or beverage containers.
Warning labels used state:
“NEVER PUT INTO FOOD, DRINK OR OTHER CONTAINERS.”
“DO NOT REMOVE CONTENTS EXCEPT FOR IMMEDIATE USE.”
Incidents cited from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
- 70-year-old female ingested some contents of a re-used iced tea bottle that, unknown to her, contained paraquat. She went to the hospital awake and alert with persistent vomiting. In just 16 days, she developed corrosive gastrointestinal injury plus kidney and respiratory failure leading to death.
- 44-year-old male mistakenly drank paraquat he thought was fruit juice. He developed difficulty breathing and vomited blood and died after 20 days of aggressive treatment in the hospital.
- 8-year-old boy drank paraquat that had been put in a Dr. Pepper bottle. He died in the hospital 16 days later.
- 15-month-old boy ingested paraquat that had been transferred into a Gatorade container and stored improperly. He received aggressive treatment but died 13 days later after suffering acute kidney and liver failure.
- 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 in 11 days.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES CAN BE TAKEN.
The EPA states any paraquat product must:
- Be used only by a certified applicator or under the direct supervision of a certified applicator.
- Never be transferred to a food, drink or any other container.
- Always be kept secured away from children.
- Never be stored in or around residential homes.
- Never be used around home gardens, schools, recreational parks, golf courses or playgrounds.