Toxno Substance Profile
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Substance Name

Paraquat dichloride
Identification Number: CASRN | 1910-42-5

  Substance Attributes

  • Known Human Carcinogen

    This is a serious nasty substance. Exposure to this substance leads to cancer in Humans. Exercise extreme caution with this substance, explore your exposure routes and very seriously consider complete avoidance. See further details under Toxins.

  • Metabolic Interference or Disruption

    Interferes with human metabolism. This can be a very serious thing. Some of these interference mechanics are well established. However, often long term effects and health consequences remain largely unknown. Additionally an emerging area of concern and one that is not currently studied, is the combined synergistic effects these metabolically disrupting chemicals have on human health.

    Metabolic interference happens when the substance produces highly reactive and often damaging intermediates during detoxification or when the substance binds to specific enzymes, important structural groups on molecules, receptors and membranes or targets DNA or mimics key nutrients.

  • Exposure Produces Health Symptoms

    Symptoms maybe short term or long term depending on the exposure duration and intensity and effects areas like Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Cognition, Fatigue. A substance with this attribute may cause an allergic skin reaction, serious eye irritation, allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled.

  • Serious Acute Effects

    This is a serious nasty substance. Effects are Acute (seen immediately). Substances in this category may be FATAL or acutely toxic if inhaled, skin contact or swallowed. See further details.

  • Toxic to specific organs

    Can damage liver, kidney, lungs, heart or gut. Ironically liver, kidneys and gut are the main detoxifications systems.

  • Toxic to Wildlife

    May kill plants, fish, birds or other animals and insects or may be very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. This then effects delicate environmental ecology and food supply in ways we don't fully understand yet.

These attributes are ONLY based on peer-reviewed evidence. See link to Data Sources below. Everyone benefits from knowing this stuff. Please Share.

  • CATEGORIES: Pesticide | Food Toxin | Synthetic Toxin | PESTICIDE active ingredient | organic | herbicide | Pesticide or Plant Growth Regulator Approved in Australia | Pesticide approved in USA (California) | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Organic Compounds | Heterocyclic Compounds | Pyridines and Derivatives | Bipyridines and Oligopyridines | Bipyridines
  • SYNONYMS: 1 | 1'-Dimethyl-4,4'-bipyridynium dichloride | 1,1 -Dimethyl-4,4 -bipyridinium | 1,1'-Dimethyl-4 | 4'-dipyridylium chloride | 1,1'-Dimethyl-4,4'-bipyridinium dichloride hydrate | 1,1'-Dimethyl-4,4'-bipyridynium dichloride | 1,1'-Dimethyl-4,4'-dipyridinium-dichlorid | 1,1'-Dimethyl-4,4'-dipyridylium dichloride | 1,1'-Dimethyl-[4,4'-bipyridin]-1,1'-diium dichloride | 1,1-Dimethyl-4,4-dipyridilium dichloride | 4,4'-Bipyridinium | 1,1'-dimethyl- | dichloride | 4,4'-Dimethyldipyridyl dichloride | Bipyridinium | 1,1'-dimethyl-4,4'- | dichloride | Cekuquat | Crisquat | Dextrone X | Dextrone-x | Dexuron | Dimethyl viologen chloride | Dimethyldipyridyl chloride | Dwuchlorek 1,1'-dwumetylo-4,4'-dwupirydyniowy | Esgram | Galokson | Goldquat 276 | Gramixel | Gramoxone | Gramoxone D | Gramoxone dichloride | Gramoxone S | Gramoxone w | Gramuron | Herbaxon | Herboxone | Methyl viologen | Methyl viologen (reduced) | Methyl viologen dichloride | Methyl-Viologen | Methylviologen chloride | N,N'-Dimethyl-4 | 4'-dipyridylium dichloride | N,N'-Dimethyl-4,4'-bipyridinium dichloride | N,N'-Dimethyl-4,4'-bipyridylium dichloride | N,N'-Dimethyl-4,4'-dipyridylium dichloride | N,N'-Dimethylviologen | Ortho paraquat CL | Parakwat | Paraquat chloride | Paraquat CL | Paraquat | dichloride | Paraquat-dichloride | Pathclear | Pillarquat | Pillarxone | Toxer total
  • DESCRIPTION: Paraquat dichloride is a constituent of numerous proprietary herbicides. A large majority (93%) of fatalities from paraquat poisoning are cases of intentional self-administration, ie, suicides. In third world countries, paraquat is a major suicide agent. For instance, in Samoa from 1979-2001, 70% of suicides were by Paraquat poisoning. In Southern Trinidad from 1996-1997, 76% of suicides were by paraquat. However, independent bodies have studied paraquat in this use. Jenny Pronczuk de Garbino, stated: no lung or other injury in marijuana users has ever been attributed to paraquat contamination. Also a United States Environmental Protection Agency manual states: … toxic effects caused by this mechanism have been either very rare or nonexistent. Most paraquat that contaminates marijuana is pyrolyzed during smoking to dipyridyl, which is a product of combustion of the leaf material itself (including marijuana) and presents little toxic hazard. Paraquat is the trade name for N,N -dimethyl-4,4 -bipyridinium dichloride, one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. Paraquat, a viologen, is quick-acting and non-selective, killing green plant tissue on contact. It is also toxic to human beings when swallowed. Paraquat is used as a quaternary ammonium herbicide; one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It is quick-acting, non-selective, and kills green plant tissue on contact. It is redistributed within the plant but does not harm mature bark. Being a herbicide, paraquat protects crops by controlling a wide range of annual and certain perennial weeds that reduce crop yield and quality by competing with the crop for water, nutrients, and light. Pure paraquat ingested is highly toxic to mammals and humans potentially leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and there are no specific antidotes. However, fuller's earth or activated charcoal is an effective treatment, if taken in time. Death may occur up to 30 days after ingestion. Diluted paraquat used for spraying is less so, thus the greatest risk of accidental poisoning is during mixing and loading Paraquat for use.
  • COMMENTS: Residues of this pesticide are tested for on Australian Foods even though this pesticide is NOT approved for use in Australia

    From Safe Work Australia and the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) in Australia:

    Fatal if inhaled. Toxic in contact with skin. Toxic if swallowed. Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure . Causes serious eye irritation. May cause respiratory irritation. Causes skin irritation. Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects | Chronic Health Hazard Environmental Hazard Acutely Toxic | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace. Check with your employer or health and safety officer. Stay informed and become aware of the dangers that surround you. This chemical is included on the list of recognised hazardous chemicals from the Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) that is based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

    Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations are the basis for hazardous chemicals regulations in Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions in Australia. Under the model WHS Regulations, manufacturers and importers of substances, mixtures and articles supplied for use in workplaces are required to determine whether they are hazardous to health and safety before supply. The model WHS Regulations mandate that the hazards of a chemical as determined by the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) must be included in safety data sheets and on labels. There are transitional arrangements in place for moving to the GHS-based system.

    The GHS Hazardous Chemical Information List contains chemicals classified by an authoritative source (such as the European Commission or NICNAS) in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (the GHS). This list contains the vast majority of chemicals currently in HSIS. This list and its detail are regularly updated by Work Safe Australia. The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations require chemicals to be classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). However transitional arrangements allow use of classification information in HSIS derived from the Approved Criteria until the 31 December 2016.
  • toxin chemical structure pubchem
  • FORMULA: C12H14Cl2N2
  • DATA SOURCES: DATA SOURCES: T3DB | PubChem | EPA_IRIS | Consolidated Pesticide Information Dataset (CPI) from the USA EPA | Compendium of Pesticide Common Names | DPR | Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)
  • LAST UPDATE: 28/04/2018

  Health Associations

Mostly focused on Health Implications of Long Term Exposure to this substance

  • SYMPTOMS: Eye or skin irritation; hypotension may develop after large ingestion; epistaxis and sore throat may develop after inhalation. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are common (T36).
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: It can cause temporary damage to nails and if swalloed, may cause nose bleeding. Long term exposures to paraquat would most likely cause lung and eye damage. Some suspect a possible link to a greater incidence of Parkinson's disease. Pancreatitis may develop in some cases of acute. Paraquat is caustic to the oral, esophageal, and gastric mucosa (T36, A545, L421). | Paraquat is poorly absorbed after oral exposure. It is not metabolized but is reduced to an unstable free radical which is then re-oxidized to reform the cation and produce a superoxide anion. It is excreted moslty in the urine,and in small fraction also in the feces (A606, L1008).
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: The mechanisms of the toxic effects of paraquat are largely the result of a metabolically catalyzed single electron oxidation reduction reaction, resulting in depletion of cellular NADPH and the generation of potentially toxic forms of oxygen such as the superoxide radical (A607). Recent studies have demonstrated paraquat cytotoxicity occurs in the mitochondria and particularly in mitochondrial-rich tissues. The mitochondrial NADH-dependent PQ reductase containing a voltage-dependent anion channel 1 (VDAC1) appears to be largely responsible for paraquat cytotoxicity. When mitochondria are incubated with NADH and paraquat, the superoxide anion is produced, and the mitochondria rupture. Ruptured mitochondria lead to rapid cell death (A3102). |
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Cytoplasm", "Extracellular", "Membrane"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: Paraquat is used as a quaternary ammonium herbicide; one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It is also often used in science to catalyze the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). (L421).

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  Exposure Routes

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