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Insecticide Poisoning


Overview :

Insecticides belong to a group of chemicals called organophosphates used to protect against insects. Their use is popular since they are effective and do not remain in the environment, disintegrating within a few days. Organophosphates act to inhibit an enzyme in humans called acetyl cholinesterase. This enzyme functions to degrade a chemical called acetylcholine, which excites nerve cells. The resultant effect of organophosphates would be an increase in acetylcholine, thus causing initial excitation of nerve cells.

Poisoning can occur with a broad range of symptoms affecting the functioning of nerves and initial symptoms similar to the flu such as vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and headache. Common names for insecticides include dichlorvos, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, fenthion, malathion, parathion, and carbamate. A special type of insecticide called paraquat is very lethal and responsible for approximately 1,000 deaths per year just in Japan. Paraquat poisoning releases oxygen free radicals that destroy lung and kidney tissues. When poisoning is suspected, a comprehensive management and assessment plan should be performed. This initial assessment should include:

  • Description of toxins: names of chemical(s).
  • Magnitude of exposure: determination of amount of exposure.
  • Progression of symptoms: determining the progression of symptoms can provide information concerning life support and overall outcome.
  • Time of exposure: knowing the time of exposure is vital since symptoms may be delayed, and it may assist to develop a management plan.
  • Medical history: underlying diseases and therapeutic mediations may worsen toxic manifestations.




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