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Pesticides

Paraquat Certified Applicator Training to Prevent Poisonings Now Available

For Release: March 8, 2019

A new certified applicator training module for paraquat dichloride (also known as paraquat) is now available. The training was developed by paraquat manufacturers as part of EPA’s 2016 risk mitigation requirements and approved by EPA.

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. Paraquat is a restricted use pesticide for use only by a certified applicator. The restriction applies to mixing, loading, and applying paraquat, as well as other pesticide handling activities.

Since 2000, 17 deaths have been caused by accidental ingestion of paraquat. Many of these deaths resulted from people illegally transferring the pesticide to beverage containers and the victim later mistaking it for a drink. A single sip can be fatal. In addition to the deaths by accidental ingestion, since 2000, three more deaths and many severe injuries have been caused by the pesticide getting onto the skin or into the eyes of those working with it.

To help prevent these tragedies, certified applicators must now take paraquat-specific training before use, to emphasize that the chemical must not be transferred to or stored in improper containers. The training also covers paraquat toxicity, new label requirements and restrictions, consequences of misuse, and other important information.

The requirement for training is only one of several actions EPA has taken to prevent poisonings, including making label changes, restricting the use of all paraquat products to certified applicators only, and requiring closed-system packaging for all non-bulk (less than 120 gallon) end use product containers of paraquat.

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