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Agrochemical Poisoning

  • Chapter

Part of the Forensic Pathology Reviews book series (FPR,volume 4)

Abstract

A general increase in the use of chemicals in agriculture has brought about a concomitant increase in the incidence of agrochemical poisoning. Organophosphates are the most common agrochemical poisons followed closely by herbicides. Many agricultural poisons, such as parathion and paraquat are now mixed with a coloring agent such as indigocarmine to prevent their use criminally. In addition, paraquat is fortified with a “stenching” agent. Organo-chlorines have an entirely different mechanism of action. Whereas organophosphates have an anticholinesterase activity, organochlorines act on nerve cells interfering with the transmission of impulses through them. A kerosene-like smell also emanates from death due to organochlorines. The diagnosis lies in the chemical identification of organochlorines in the stomach contents or viscera. Organochlorines also resist putrefaction and can be detected long after death. Paraquat has been involved in suicidal, accidental, and homicidal poisonings. It is mildly corrosive and ulceration around lips and mouth is common in this poisoning. However, the hallmark of paraquat poisoning, especially when the victim has survived a few days, are the profound changes in lungs. Other agrochemicals such as algicides, aphicides, herbicide safeneres, fertilizers, and so on, are less commonly encountered. Governments in most countries have passed legislations to prevent accidental poisonings with these agents. The US government passed the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in 1962 and the Indian government passed The Insecticides Act in 1968. Among other things, these acts require manufacturers to use signal words on the labels of insecticides, so the public is warned of their toxicity and accompanying danger.

Key Words

  • Agrochemical poisoning
  • rodenticides
  • insecticides
  • organophosphates
  • carbamates
  • organochlorines
  • fungicides

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Aggrawal, A. (2006). Agrochemical Poisoning. In: Tsokos, M. (eds) Forensic Pathology Reviews. Forensic Pathology Reviews, vol 4. Humana Press. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-59259-921-9_10

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