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Paraquat Herbicide Information

Paraquat Herbicide Information

Paraquat Herbicide Information

What is paraquat or paraquat dichloride?

Paraquat is one of the most frequently used herbicides in the US for the control of weeds in various agricultural and non-agricultural contexts and is also used as a defoliant on crops, such as cotton, before harvest. Paraquat is a safe and effective herbicide when used as stated on the label. However, for a variety of reasons, suicide with agrochemicals is a serious and unpleasant societal issue, notably in certain less-developed nations.

Agrochemicals are also infrequently implicated in instances of unintentional consumption, most typically as a result of persons breaking suggested procedures by decanting products into unlabeled beverage bottles. Paraquat is the active element in Gramoxone, which is used to manage weeds and grasses and as a harvest aid, desiccant, and/or defoliant. It is a restricted-use pesticide owing to acute toxicity and is for retail sale only and only for application by trained applicators. The substance is poisonous to people as well as animals, is somewhat corrosive to aluminum, and creates hydrogen gas, which may form a highly flammable gas combination in the presence of metal. It is widely used as a burn-down product, to reduce grass cover crops or volunteer cereals, and may give control of perennial and annual broadleaf weeds.

On March 8, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of needed training for authorized applicators who use products that include paraquat dichloride (commonly known as paraquat) as an active component. According to the EPA release, the aim of these additional limits is to help minimize accidental consumption (a single drink may be lethal) and other exposures to the substance. The notification revealed that since 2000, 17 fatalities had been caused by the accidental intake of paraquat. Many of these fatalities occurred when somebody illegally transferred the pesticide to beverage containers and the victim subsequently mistook it for a drink. In addition to the fatalities via accidental eating, since 2000, three further deaths and several serious injuries have been caused by the pesticide getting into the skin or into the eyes of people working with it.

Products that include paraquat dichloride as an active component may be known to farmers by several trade or brand names, e.g., Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat, and Parazone.


Respirator Exhalation Valve ResearchElastomeric Half Mask Respirator ResourcesEPA and ParaquatParaquat information center Paraquat Poisoning (Syngenta Revision 8)

Additional Resources

The greatest advice still remains: read and observe the label guidelines on the product you are using, store the product in its original packaging, and never put the product in any form of food container, particularly a drink container.

Companies are obliged to have freshly labeled goods on the market after November 12, 2019; some may create and sell newly labeled items before that date.

New training is being designed to address:

The Closed-System Requirement: As of December 31st, 2020, paraquat registrants will no longer be able to distribute or sell paraquat products in containers less than 120 gallons without closed systems for removing the product from the original container, any subsequent transfer of the product, and the complete removal and rinsing of the product container. However, dealers and distributors will be authorized to continue to sell paraquat items that do not fulfill the closed-system criteria until their stockpiles run out.


Jar Testing: Tank-mix compatibility testing, nicknamed jar testing, is banned. Users are recommended to visit the product’s website for a list of goods that have been assessed for compatibility.

Applicators who have previously completed training remain compliant for three years from the time they finished the initial training; they do not have to take the updated training until their third renewal anniversary.

When buying the freshly branded product:

The product may only be combined, loaded, or applied by a qualified applicator who has successfully completed the paraquat-specific training before use. Application “under the direct supervision” of a qualified applicator is no longer permitted. Training must be redone every three years.

The necessity for training is simply one of numerous efforts the EPA has taken to avoid poisonings with new label revisions, including:

  • Restricting the use of all paraquat products to certified applicators only.
  • Certified Applicator Statement (for mixers, loaders, and applicators).Clarifying toxicity in English and Spanish language forms.
  • New visuals and wording on the label: “DANGER—ONE SIP CAN KILL” and a skull and crossbones emblem on the container.
  • A “product package safety requirements sticker” was applied to the container.
  • A “counter card” stating the same vital warning information is to be delivered with every container. Plans for closed-system packaging for containers smaller than 120 gallons.

It is also vital to know that:

The EPA is permitting the sale of paraquat that is already in the channels of commerce; therefore, some paraquat sold this growing season may not have the new training requirement on the label. If the new training requirement is specified on the label of the purchased goods, you must complete the training. Growers who presently have a supply of paraquat that does not have updated labeling specifying the mandatory training are not obliged to complete the course. Pesticide registrants will submit label amendments and new product registrations for the closed system packaging by March 30, 2019, and will have 12 months from the EPA’s label approval date to implement the closed system packaging.

Additional information may be obtained on the EPA’s webpage.

Another link to the online paraquat training may be found here: Paraquat: NPSEC NPSEC is now collecting a $25 charge.

PERC has published a factsheet addressing paraquat safety, which may be accessed here.

Remember to always obey the label guidelines of the product you are using; the label is the law.

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