WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Dec. 15 the finalization of safety measures created to prevent poisonings caused by ingestion of the herbicide paraquat. Paraquat can cause severe injuries or death from skin or eye exposure.
Seventeen deaths have occurred since 2000 from accidental ingestion of paraquat, including three deaths of children. According to the EPA, these deaths mostly occurred when the substance was taken out of its packaging illegally and placed into beverage containers. Because of this, people mistook the product for a drink and consumed it. A single sip of paraquat can be fatal, the EPA noted.
In order to prevent such tragedies in the future, the EPA is taking a three-pronged approach. This involves new closed-system packaging to effectively make it impossible to transfer paraquat from its container unless directly into the proper application equipment, special training for certified applicators who use paraquat, and changes to the pesticide label and warning materials. These labels must better highlight the risks associated with paraquat.
Paraquat is a widely used herbicide in the United States. It is used to control weeds in both agricultural and non-agricultural settings.