New standards have been proposed for the handling and application of the herbicide paraquat, one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. for the control of weeds and grass. The regulations are part of an EPA effort to prevent deaths and serious injuries from accidental ingestion and worker exposure to the chemical.
Workers handling the liquid chemical can be seriously harmed by skin or eye exposure. Over 15 deaths have been reported since 2000 as a result of it being improperly placed into beverage containers and mistaken for drinks – just one sip can be fatal.
The rules will require paraquat to be sold in closed-system packaging to prevent its transfer into improper containers, changes to the herbicide’s label reflecting the risk, and more comprehensive training offered for workers handling the material. Additionally, only individuals that are certified to apply pesticides will be allowed to use the herbicide and hand-held and backpack equipment are prohibited.