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Pathological and Toxicological Findings in Glyphosate-Surfactant Herbicide Fatality: A Case Report

Sribanditmongkol, Pongruk MD, PhD*; Jutavijittum, Prapan MD; Pongraveevongsa, Pattaravadee MSc*; Wunnapuk, Klintean MSc*; Durongkadech, Piya MD*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: September 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 234–237
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31824b936c
Case Reports

Glyphosate herbicide is promoted by the manufacturer as having no risks to human health, with acute toxicity being very low in normal use. In Thailand, however, poisoning from glyphosate agricultural herbicides has been increasing. A case of rapid lethal intoxication from glyphosate-surfactant herbicide involved a 37-year-old woman, who deliberately ingested approximately 500 mL of concentrated Roundup formulation (41% glyphosate as the isopropylamine salt and 15% polyoxyethylene amine; Mosanto Company). The postmortem examination revealed that the stomach contained 550 mL of yellow fluid. The gastric mucosa of anterior fundus revealed hemorrhage and the small intestines had marked dilatation and thin walls. We used the high-performance liquid chromatography method for determination of serum and gastric content levels of glyphosate. The glyphosate levels of serum and gastric content were 3.05 and 59.72 mg/mL, respectively. Toxic effects of polyoxyethylene amine and Roundup were caused by their ability to erode tissues including mucous membranes and linings of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. A mild degree of pulmonary congestion and edema was observed in both lungs. We proposed that the characteristic picture of microvesicular steatosis of the hepatocytes, seen predominantly in centrilobular zones of the liver, resembled drug-induced hepatic toxicity or secondary hypoxic stress.

From the Departments of *Forensic Medicine and †Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

Manuscript received December 5, 2007; accepted March 20, 2008.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Pongruk Sribanditmongkol, MD, PhD, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang, Mai University, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.