Who Gets Exposed to Pesticides?

Pesticides are toxic chemicals, and any amount of exposure may have harmful health consequences. Because of their frequent use, nearly everyone has had some exposure to pesticides.

You might get exposed if you are a farmer who uses pesticides on crops. Or if you are an agricultural worker, groundskeeper, or gardener.

Maybe you just live near an agricultural area where pesticides are frequently sprayed. These chemicals get into the soil, water, and even the air you breathe.

If you frequently visited farms where pesticides were used, you may have been exposed. Even if you didn’t visit, your food comes from a farm. So, there might be pesticide residue on anything you eat.

Other avenues of exposure include schools, golf courses, or parks. Home gardeners may also be affected if you used pesticides in your yard.

What Are Pesticides?

“A pesticide is any substance used to kill, repel, or control certain forms of plant or animal life that are considered to be pests,” according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (2)

Pesticides include herbicides (weed and plant killers), insecticides (bug killers), fungicides (fungi killers), and disinfectants (bacteria and rodent killers). (3)

What Are Pesticides Used For?

Pesticides are used primarily in agriculture. They are sprayed on crops to control pests such as insects, fungi, bacteria, and weeds. They may also be used in and around homes and swimming pools. You can find them in household products, such as soaps and cleaners. (4)

Why Pesticide Safety Is Important

Due to the widespread use of pesticides, there has been growing concern regarding human exposure. The Pesticide Action Network North America, a nonprofit group, says, “Many [pesticides] are designed to attack an insect’s brain and nervous system, which can mean they have neurotoxic effects in humans as well.” (5)

Exposure to pesticides can affect the human body in various ways. Some pesticides “may irritate the skin or eyes. Some pesticides may be carcinogens. Others may affect the hormone or endocrine system.” (6)

More importantly, trace amounts of pesticide residue can be found in our food supply because pesticides are used in agriculture. (7) Pesticides also seep into groundwater and soil samples. (8)

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns, “Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans and can have both acute and chronic health effects, depending on the quantity and ways in which a person is exposed.” (9)

If you developed a serious health condition following exposure to pesticides, contact us today to understand your legal options.

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Common Pesticides Under Investigation by W&L

Due to the health risks to humans posed by exposure to pesticides, there is much ongoing litigation concerning them.

Many pesticides are under investigation. In fact, Weitz & Luxenberg (W&L) is litigating over several widely used pesticides.

Among the most widely used pesticides raising concerns, and under investigation by our firm, are:


Roundup is a very popular herbicide, or weed killer.…The key ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, a compound with a molecular structure similar to the amino acid glycine.” (10) It has been used in U.S. agriculture since 1974. Roundup is sprayed on crops such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, corn, and soybeans. (11) Glyphosate causes cancer. (12)


Dicamba is a chemical compound that is used in herbicides that are designed to kill annual and perennial broad-leafed plants.” (13) It has been registered for use in the U.S. since 1962. (14) Some farmers are “alleging injury to their crops,” from the use of Dicamba. Dicamba is often used on weeds or plants which have become resistant to glyphosate. (15)


Paraquat is a toxic chemical that is widely used as an herbicide (plant killer), primarily for weed and grass control,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Paraquat was first commercially produced in 1961. Access to, and use of, the chemical is restricted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (16) Paraquat’s exposure can lead to Parkinson’s disease.


In use since 1965, chlorpyrifos is an insecticide (bug killer). It “helps control pests on a number of high-value crops, including almonds, alfalfa, walnuts, and oranges.” According to some lawsuits, “Exposure to the insecticide in the womb and in early childhood can cause a variety of developmental health issues, including autism, obesity, and vision problems.” (17)

Best Practices for Pesticide Safety

The damage these pesticides can do to humans ranges from life-altering to lethal. So safe handling of these chemicals is critical.

When using pesticides, the EPA has these safety tips: (18)

  • Use non-chemical control methods.
  • Don’t use products for pests not indicated on the label.
  • Don’t use more than directed.
  • Use protective measures.
  • Remove or cover food.
  • Don’t spray outdoors on windy or rainy days.
  • Before applying (indoors or outdoors), remove children, toys, and pets from the area.

If you have been exposed to a toxic amount of any pesticide, reach out to an attorney for help evaluating your legal options.

If you developed a life-threatening health condition from pesticide exposure, contact us today for a free case review.

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Legal Options

An attorney with experience handling environmental pollution lawsuits can help you. Your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf if you have suffered serious harm through exposure to pesticides.

Pesticide personal injury legal cases are highly complex. They require an in-depth knowledge of the law and the environmental issues involved. For the best outcome, it is important to have an experienced attorney who has handled similar cases.

To win your case, your attorney needs to show the court your exposure to the pesticide did you harm. That exposure could have been repeated exposure over time. Or it could be an instance of exposure greater than what the ordinary person would experience.

Examples of a high degree of exposure include spilling pesticide all over your clothes and directly inhaling or ingesting it. You may also be exposed to a pesticide over a long period of time, and these exposures can add up.

The way you were exposed is also important, since it has a bearing on how much of the chemical you may have been exposed to. This can also affect which harmful results the exposure had on you physically.

How W&L Can Help

Attorneys at W&L not only have experience in environmental pollution cases, but have been successful in helping clients gain the justice they deserve.

Here are two examples of recent cases:

  • Settlement of $400 million for dicamba herbicide exposure for farmers who suffered damaged crops. The manufacturer commercialized dicamba-resistant seeds without a safe formulation to spray over the top of those seeds.
  • Settlement reached for clients harmed by Roundup. W&L filed suit against the manufacturer since exposure to the herbicide caused Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in our clients.