Agriculture, forestry and fishing

EPA issues requirements to help prevent paraquat poisonings

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Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency has released requirements intended to prevent poisonings involving the herbicide paraquat, which can result in death or injuries through ingestion or skin or eye exposure.

Paraquat is used for weed control and as a defoliant on some crops before harvest. Since 2000, unintentional ingestion of the chemical has caused 17 deaths – including three cases involving children. In these instances, the herbicide was placed in a beverage container and misidentified as a drink. Three deaths and many injuries among workers also occurred after the chemical entered the eyes or skin.

EPA is requiring the following measures:

  • New “closed-system packaging” that makes it impossible to transfer the herbicide except directly into proper application equipment
  • Special training for certified applicators who use the herbicide, stressing that the chemical must not be moved to or kept in improper containers
  • Restricting use of paraquat to certified applicators only
  • Modifications to the herbicide’s label and warning materials to focus on its toxicity and risks

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