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Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2012 Jun;50(5):396-402. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2012.676646. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

Acute human glufosinate-containing herbicide poisoning.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Toxicology, Department of Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.



Glufosinate-containing herbicides are commonly used worldwide. Data on acute human glufosinate poisoning however remain scarce.


We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all glufosinate poisoned cases reported to the Taiwan National Poison Control Center and two medical centers in Taiwan from August 1993 through February 2010. Their demographic and clinical data were then analyzed to identify potential predictors of severe effects following acute glufosinate poisoning.


One hundred and thirty-one patients, including 115 oral and 16 non-oral exposures, were eligible for final analysis. Among patients with oral exposure, 25 were asymptomatic, while the others developed gastrointestinal, neurological, cardiovascular, and/or respiratory manifestations. Seven patients (6.1%) died following deliberate glufosinate ingestion. The median dose of glufosinate ingestion was 30.4 grams (interquartile range 18.5-45.6 grams) in the severe/fatal group compared to 6.8 grams (interquartile range 3.7-16.2 grams) in the non-severe group (p <0.001). Older age (≥ 61 years; adjusted OR 4.9, 95% CI 1.3-17.9) and larger amount of glufosinate ingestion (≥ 13.9 grams; adjusted OR 25.2, 95% CI 4.8-132.5) were positively associated with the development of severe toxicity, whereas ethanol consumption (adjusted OR 0.1, 95% CI <0.1-0.5) was inversely associated with the risk of severe toxicity.


Although glufosinate is generally thought to be of low toxicity to humans, severe effects can occur and may be associated with older age, larger amount of ingestion and absence of concomitant ethanol consumption.

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