What Are the Dangers of Pesticide Exposure?


Pesticides are widely used in both the commercial and consumer markets to address problems like insect infestations. However, the ingredients that make pesticides toxic to common pests make them toxic to humans, too. This means that humans who come into contact with pesticides may experience acute or chronic health problems.

Many individuals have worked with environmental lawyers after suffering medical issues after exposure to pesticides to receive compensation for economic and non-economic damages. After all, pesticide makers are legally expected to alert users to the dangers related to their products. When they do not alert consumers to the dangers or their products are used inappropriately, a lawsuit can hold the negligent party or parties responsible.

How Pesticide Toxicity is Determined?

If you look at any pesticide product, you should see what is called a “signal word.” The signal word is meant to inform you of the toxicity of the pesticide. Some important signal words include:

  • DANGER: A pesticide labeled with DANGER is highly toxic to humans.
  • POISON: Like DANGER, POISON with or without a skull and crossbones denotes the highest degree of toxicity.
  • WARNING: Though WARNING may seem less serious than DANGER or POISON, it is not. A pesticide that earns a WARNING label can still be fatal if ingested.
  • CAUTION: Pesticides on the lower end of the toxicity scale are supposed to have CAUTION on the label. Just remember that a low toxicity can still be dangerous and cause unwanted side effects after exposure.

What Kinds of Symptoms Accompany Pesticide Toxicity?

Pesticides contain a variety of active ingredients. Any kind of dermal, respiratory, oral, or other contact with the ingredients can cause responses. Some of the more frequently reported pesticide side effects run the gamut from least severe to life-threatening.

Some of the least life-threatening but still disconcerting pesticide exposure symptoms include temporary skin irritation like rashes, temporary eye irritation, vomiting, blisters and hives, headaches, stomach aches, minor allergic reactions, and scratchy or sore throats. Among the most life-threatening pesticide symptoms are the growth of malignant masses, changes to the pesticide user’s genetic makeup, coma, disorders of the nervous system, disruption of the reproductive system, and development of various cancers.

As you might imagine, the way one person reacts to one-time or persistent pesticide exposure can be very different from the way another person reacts. For this reason, it can sometimes be harder for pesticide toxicity sufferers to know the cause of their problems right away. This is especially true in the case of pesticide-related symptoms that come to fruition over time, such as the slow development of tumors throughout the body.

How to Limit Your Risk of Pesticide Exposure Danger?

The simplest way to prevent health issues related to pesticides is to take precautionary measures. These may involve:

Avoid using pesticides. Whenever possible, rethink your use of pesticides for home or business. If you do not have pesticides on hand, you will be less likely to come in contact with them.

Wear protective gear when handling pesticides. Wearing proper protective equipment like gloves can cut down on exposure to pesticides. So can masking up, wearing long sleeves, wearing long pants, and putting on goggles before spraying pesticides.

Choose low-toxicity pesticides. When picking a pesticide, try to find a low-toxic or non-toxic variety. It may not work as quickly as one labeled with DANGER or POISON, but it will be less likely to harm you.

Keep pesticides out of children’s reach. Pesticides should be stored away from young children who may be more inclined to “play” with the bottles or containers.

Choose a career that does not require the handling of pesticides. Many thriving industries, including agribusiness and commercial lawn care, make heavy use of pesticides. Before taking a job, ask about the likelihood of being around pesticides.

Of course, you may be exposed to pesticides even if you take preventative steps. For instance, pesticides may leech into the soil and make their way into groundwater. They may pollute the air around where they are sprayed.

What Should You Do If You Believe You Have Been Injured by Pesticides?

You might not realize at first that the symptoms you are or have been experiencing were caused by pesticides, particularly if you have been unknowingly exposed to pesticides. Nevertheless, if you know or believe that you have been injured by pesticides, you should get treatment immediately.

A doctor’s diagnosis can be a good first step toward figuring out whether pesticides contributed to your health problems. Your physician can get you the care you need to treat your injuries or illness.

What if your pesticide injury is a true emergency and you require urgent attention? In that situation, you should take the pesticide container with you to the hospital, if it is safe to do so. If you cannot bring the container, take a picture of the label to show your attending providers. That way, they will be able to review the ingredient lists and make the best treatment choices based on the pesticide.

Talking to a Lawyer About Your Pesticide Exposure

As you are being treated for pesticide exposure, you may want to contact an environmental lawyer to talk about what happened to you. An environmental lawyer can help you determine whether you have enough information to pursue a lawsuit. Be prepared to talk to the lawyer truthfully, even if you are unsure when the pesticide exposure may have happened. Write down everything you can remember and have information on hand to help you answer questions during your initial consultation.

Why do you need a lawyer at all? It can be difficult to show the correlation between pesticide use and health problems, especially if your health problems happen after months or years of pesticide exposure. Having a lawyer on your side can be one way to navigate the complexities of product liability and personal injury lawsuits. Without a lawyer, you may have difficulty acquiring the documentation and expert testimony you need to compel a fair, acceptable settlement offer or a court-based judgment in your favor.

Plainfield Environmental Lawyers at Herold Law, P.A., Help Individuals Harmed by Pesticide Exposure Recover Damages

Did you or someone in your family suffer medical problems due to pesticide exposure? Call the Plainfield environmental lawyers at Herold Law, P.A., at 908-647-1022 or contact us online to arrange a consultation at our firm headquarters in Warren, New Jersey. Herold Law handles environmental law cases across the Warren area, including Plainfield.