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J Med Toxicol. 2013 Jun;9(2):144-7. doi: 10.1007/s13181-012-0283-6.

Paraquat poisonings in France during the European ban: experience of the Poison Control Center in Marseille.

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Poison Control Center, Hospital Sainte Marguerite, 270 Boulevard Sainte Marguerite, 13009, Marseille, France.


Paraquat, a widely used herbicide in the world, has caused severe and fatal poisonings. Because of its high toxicity, the European Union withdrew paraquat from its market in July 2007. The purpose of this report is to describe cases of paraquat poisoning recorded at the Poison Control Center in Marseille over the 9-year period starting and ending 4.5 years before and after the paraquat ban. Data analysis showed that the most severe exposures were linked to ingestion. The fatality rate of deliberate consumption was near 50 % (34 suicide attempts and 15 deaths). Our data showed a marginal decline in total number of poisonings observed after the paraquat ban (38 vs 33 after the ban) mostly due to a decrease in the number of unintentional exposure (21 vs 16 after the ban). However, there was no apparent change in the number suicidal attempts using paraquat. Regarding geographical distribution, data showed that most poisonings in mainland France were unintentional, while poisonings in overseas French territories were mostly voluntary. Despite the European ban and the preventive measures, paraquat continues to contribute to severe and life-threatening poisonings in Southeastern and overseas France.

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