The draft risk assessments are the product of an evaluation of available data on the health and environmental impacts associated with the pesticide. These draft risk assessments are the next step in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act registration review process and are not a denial or an approval of the herbicide. Public comments will be accepted until Dec. 16, 2019.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, paraquat is a toxic chemical widely used for weed and grass control. Gramoxone, manufactured by Syngenta, is the most common trade name for paraquat, but the herbicide is also sold under many different names by many different manufacturers. China was the world’s largest manufacturer of paraquat in 2011, according to the Pesticide Action Network.
Paraquat is used in more than 100 crops, including cotton, corn and soybeans. All paraquat products are Restricted Use Products. Additionally, paraquat products can only be applied by certified pesticide applicators. EPA does not allow the use of paraquat in residential areas.
EPA has taken steps to ensure paraquat is used in a manner that is safe and consistent with the label directions. This includes a safety awareness campaign and changes to labels and product packaging to stop improper uses. Additionally, specialized training for certified applicators who use paraquat was released earlier this year. EPA is continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of these measures as the agency works to complete the required registration review process.
EPA found no risks of concern when paraquat is used according to label instructions. The draft human health risk assessment identifies potential risks to workers who apply paraquat or enter treated fields after application. There are also potential risks from spray drift to bystanders. The draft ecological risk assessment identifies potential risks to mammals, birds, adult honey bees, terrestrial plants, and algae.
Historically, EPA has received feedback from the public linking the proper use of paraquat to Parkinson’s Disease, however, EPA’s review of the available information in the draft assessment did not support a causal relationship. As with all aspects of the draft risk assessments, the agency is seeking additional feedback from the public during the 60-day public comment period on the relationship between paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease.
After public comments on the human health and ecological risk assessments are reviewed, EPA will determine whether updates or revisions to the assessments are necessary. EPA will propose additional risk mitigation measures, if necessary, in 2020, via its Registration Review Proposed Interim Decision.