Among other serious side effects, Paraquat exposure can cause kidney damage.
Paraquat dichloride (known as Paraquat) is a liquid herbicide used in agricultural settings. The herbicide is very effective in controlling weeds on farm fields.
Paraquat is also highly toxic. In the United States, only licensed applicators with appropriate protective equipment are allowed to use Paraquat.
The herbicide is sold under many brand names. The most common trade name is Gramoxone, manufactured by Syngenta.
Paraquat is banned in over 30 countries, but is still widely used in the United States.
How Does Paraquat Damage the Kidneys?
Paraquat exposure happens in a variety of ways. Exposure methods include swallowing (ingestion), through damaged skin, and inhalation.
Accidental or purposeful ingestion is the most common type of Paraquat exposure. Even a small amount of Paraquat is fatal. There is currently no antidote for Paraquat poisoning.
Paraquat transfers electrons to oxygen in a process known as oxidation and reduction, or “redox.” This process results in the disintegration of cell membranes and tissues.
In many cases, poisoning from Paraquat herbicide causes multiple organ failure.
People exposed to Paraquat suffer from acute kidney injury or kidney failure (also known as renal failure).
Once Paraquat enters the body, it first travels to the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for excreting toxins from the body. The redox process in Paraquat poisoning injures the kidney cells. So when the kidney is injured, the toxin is unable to leave the body and instead travels to the other organs.
This is why patients who have been exposed to Paraquat often develop lung damage as well.
Paraquat Poisoning and Kidney Damage
Since much of the Paraquat toxin is eliminated from the body through the kidneys, kidney damage might not be evident at first. However, Paraquat accumulates within renal cells and ultimately damages them without showing signs of doing so.
Urine and blood tests are the most helpful in determining kidney damage. These tests serve a few purposes:
- Determine how much of the Paraquat toxin is still in the kidney.
- Test for the presence of protein or persistent protein (proteinuria), which is a sign that the kidneys are not functioning properly.
- Test the patient’s creatinine levels. Creatinine is the waste product of creatine, which the muscles use to make energy. High levels of creatinine in the blood might indicate that the kidney is damaged and not working correctly.
These tests are performed multiple times throughout the patient’s stay in the hospital to monitor the effects of the Paraquat poisoning. Also, medical professionals will try to prevent further kidney damage or damage to other organs.
Monitoring creatinine levels in a patient exposed to Paraquat herbicide is important because there are very few outward signs and symptoms of kidney damage.
Symptoms of Kidney Damage
In the case of acute kidney failure or renal failure, the patient might experience the following symptoms:
- Decreased urine output
- Fluid retention causing swelling in legs, ankles, or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain or pressure
- Seizures or coma
Kidney Damage Prognosis After Paraquat Exposure
In some cases, the amount of Paraquat exposure is small, so damage to the kidneys is minimal.
Additionally, if the patient sought medical help quickly enough, the kidney damage might not be as severe. One study found that some patients’ kidney function was normal within three weeks of the initial poisoning. None of these patients in this study suffered permanent kidney damage.
However, after a large-dose exposure to Paraquat, the patient could experience acute kidney injury or acute renal failure, as well as failure of other organs in the body.
Were You Exposed to Paraquat and Suffered From Kidney Damage?
If you or a loved one were exposed to Paraquat herbicide and suffered kidney damage or renal failure as a result, you may be entitled to compensation.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you gather the evidence needed to make a case against the manufacturers of Paraquat. The attorneys at VanDerGinst Law will fight hard to secure compensation for your injuries.
At VanDerGinst Law, the consultation is free, and you don’t pay an attorney fee unless we win your injury case.
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