Since 2000, there have been 17 deaths – three involving children caused by accidental ingestion of paraquat. These cases have resulted from the pesticide being illegally transferred to beverage containers and then accidentally drank.
“We are taking tough steps to prevent people from accidentally drinking paraquat and to ensure these tragic deaths become a thing of the past,” said Jim Jones, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator for the office of chemical safety and pollution prevention. “We are also putting safety measures in place to prevent worker injuries from exposure to this pesticide.”
A single sip can be fatal.
- New closed-system packaging designed to make it impossible to transfer or remove the pesticide except directly into the proper application equipment.
- Special training for certified applicators who use paraquat to emphasize that the chemical must not be transferred to or stored in improper containers.
- Changes to the pesticide label and warning materials to highlight the toxicity and risks associated with paraquat.
Since 2000, there have been three deaths and many severe injuries, too, caused by the pesticide getting onto the skin or into the eyes of those working with the herbicide.
To reduce exposure to workers who mix, load and apply paraquat, EPA is proposes:
- Prohibiting application from hand-held and backpack equipment.
- Restricting the use to certified pesticide applicators only (individuals working under the supervision of a certified applicator would be prohibited from using paraquat).
Paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. for the control of weeds in many agricultural and non-agricultural settings and is also used as a defoliant on crops such as cotton prior to harvest. The proposal will be available for a 60 day public comment period. EPA will consider all public comments before finalizing these proposed actions later this year.
Paraquat is currently undergoing registration review, a program that re-evaluates all pesticides on a 15-year cycle. EPA plans to release paraquat’s draft risk assessment in 2017. All documents related to the registration review can be located in docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0855 located at www.regulations.gov
EPA recently revised the Worker Protection Standard and proposed Certification and Training Rule.