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Nail damage in spray operators exposed to paraquat
  1. C. E. D. Hearn1,
  2. W. Keir
  1. aOccupational Health Service and Agricultural Department, Caroni Limited (Tate and Lyle Limited), Trinidad, West Indies


    Hearn, C. E. D., and Keir, W. (1971).Brit. J. industr. Med.,28, 399-403. Nail damage in spray operators exposed to paraquat. Nail damage in 55 persons due to contamination by diluted paraquat in a group of 296 spray operators employed on a sugar estate in Trinidad is described.

    The commonest lesion seen was transverse white bands of discoloration, but loss of nail surface, transverse ridging, gross deformity of the nail plate, and loss of nails occurred. The index, middle, and ring fingers of the right hand were predominantly affected and this could be ascribed to leakage from the knapsack sprayer.

    It is emphasized that, although the degree of contamination was unusually gross, it is nonetheless important to recognize that the diluted material can cause nail damage. Simple hygienic precautions and proper maintenance of spraying equipment can prevent its occurrence. Periodic medical examinations are recommended even for workers exposed only to diluted paraquat.

    The distribution of the nail lesions confirms that they are the result of a local action. Following cessation of further exposure subsequent nail growth is normal.

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    • 1 Present address: Fisons Limited, Agrochemical Division, Cambridge