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Farming Accidents: Types of Chemical Exposure

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Updated September 28, 2019 | Farming Accidents |


One of the leading causes of farming accidents is dangerous chemical exposure. Chemical exposure can occur from any contact with dangerous chemicals, such as touching, breathing, eating, or drinking harmful chemicals.

Types of Chemical Exposure

Dangerous chemicals that are commonly used on farms include herbicides, pesticides, and anhydrous ammonia.


Herbicides, commonly known as weed killers, are chemical substances used to control and kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill certain targets and leave the desired crop relatively unharmed, while non-selective herbicides kill all of the plant material they come into contact with. Herbicides are commonly used in agriculture, and they are known to cause a variety of health effects.


Pesticides are chemical substances used to kill plants and animals that are considered pests. Pesticides include herbicides (destroy unwanted plants), insecticides (control a variety of insects), fungicides (prevent the growth of mold and mildew), and disinfectants (prevent the spread of bacteria). Pesticides are commonly used in agriculture, and they are known to cause a variety of health effects.

Anhydrous Ammonia

Anhydrous ammonia is a pungent, colorless, and toxic gas or liquid. When released into the air, it expands rapidly, forming a large cloud of toxic vapor. Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used as an agricultural fertilizer, and it can be extremely dangerous to your life and health.

Symptoms of Chemical Exposure

Reactions to chemical exposure can be mild, moderate, or severe—and symptoms vary with different degrees of danger. Some symptoms of chemical exposure include:

  • Burning and watery eyes
  • Burning of the nose, lips, mouth, throat, and skin
  • Coughing (with or without blood)
  • Sneezing (with or without blood)
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or painful breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Heavy sweating
  • Swelling
  • Fever

Effects of Chemical Exposure

Effects of chemicals can be acute or chronic. Acute (short-term) effects show up immediately or soon after exposure, while chronic (long-term) effects can take years to show up and are usually permanent. Some effects of chemical exposure include:

  • Burns
  • Poisoning
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Lung damage or scarring
  • Lung cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Other organ damage
  • Diseases (such as Parkinson’s)
  • Death

What to Do If You’ve Been Exposed to Dangerous Chemicals

If you’ve been exposed to a dangerous chemical, you should:

  • Evacuate the area of chemical exposure
  • Decontaminate (remove clothes and shower)
  • Alert the appropriate authorities
  • Seek medical attention and evaluation
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer

To learn more, read our blog about what to do if you’ve been exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Contact a Farming Attorney Today

If you have been injured as a result of a farming accident, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Farming Accident and Chemical Exposure Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you with the next steps in pursuing a farming accident case, regardless of the type of accident. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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