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New Training Required for Paraquat Applicators

Thursday, March 19, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Genevieve Christ, Penn State Extension
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken recent actions on the active ingredient paraquat dichloride, a herbicide frequently referred to as paraquat, in order to prevent human poisonings.

Paraquat is commonly sold under the trade name Gramoxone. This product is classified as a Restricted Use Pesticide with the Danger/Poison signal word because of its high level of acute toxicity to humans. The ingestion of this product can be fatal, even in small doses and there is no antidote. Paraquat can also be fatal if inhaled as well as being corrosive to the skin and eyes.

In recent years several fatalities, including children, have been attributed to paraquat. Some of those deaths were the result of individuals drinking paraquat that was illegally stored in beverage containers. To prevent future fatalities along with reducing the exposure to individuals using paraquat, the EPA has taken action that now requires:

·  Restricting the use of paraquat to certified applicators only. Individuals working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator will no longer be able to apply paraquat.

·  A new closed-system on non-bulk paraquat containers so the product can be directly transferred into the application equipment.

·  Applicators to complete a mandatory training program on paraquat use every 3 years when using products with the new label requirements. (Note – Training will not be required for using older products where the label does not list these requirements.)

·  New supplemental warning materials.

·  Label changes that highlight toxicity issues and incorporate statements about use only by a certified applicator and completing an EPA approved training before using.

As of September 30, 2018, manufacturers can no longer release paraquat products into the marketplace without the amended label; however, those products currently in the marketplace can still be sold or used by individuals according to the existing container label until supplies are exhausted.

September 30, 2020 will be the last date on which manufacturers can sell or distribute paraquat products that do not comply with the new closed system requirements for containers. The EPA has made provisions for the continued use of handheld and backpack equipment along with some research exemptions. More information on the new paraquat dichloride training requirements can be found on the EPA’s website and in this document from Penn State Extension.

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