This fall, there will be new labeling on all paraquat products sold in the U.S. Paraquat is sold under the product names of Cyclone Star, Cyclone, Devour, Firestorm, Gramoxone, Helmquat, Para-shot, Paraquat, and Parazone. With these newly labeled products, certified applicators must now take a paraquat-specific training before use and applications “under the direct supervision” of a certified applicator will not be allowed. Paraquat-specific training must be repeated every 3 years. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is allowing the sale of paraquat that is already in the pipeline, so some paraquat without the new labeling requiring the training may be sold this growing season. If the training requirement is on the label of the product to be used, applicators must complete the training before use. Growers that currently have a supply of paraquat that does not have the new labeling listing are not required to complete the training.
Besides the paraquat-specific training, the EPA is implementing other measures to help prevent poisonings, which includes:
- Restricting the use (mixing, loading, application, and other pesticide-related activities, which may include but is not limited to: transporting and storing opened containers; cleaning equipment; and disposal of excess pesticides, spray mix, wash water, containers, or other materials) of all paraquat products to certified applicators only.
- Clarifying toxicity on the label in English and Spanish
- Skull and crossbones symbol and “DANGER-ONE SIP CAN KILL” on the container.
- A “product package safety requirements” sticker attached to the container.
- A “counter card” summarizing the same important warning information that is to be distributed with every container.
- Requirement for closed system transfer (“requiring closed-system packaging for all non-bulk (less than 120 gallon) end use product containers of paraquat”) is not going to be in place this growing season as the technology will not be available. Registrants will submit label changes and new product registrations for the closed system packaging by March, 2019, and will have 12 months from EPA’s label approval date to adopt the closed system packaging.
As with any pesticide application:
- Read and follow all label directions
- Keep the product in it’s original packaging, and
- Never transfer the materials into any type of food container.
Poisonings have occurred because paraquat has been illegally transferred into drink containers. Since the year 2000, there have been 17 deaths due to paraquat poisoning; several of those resulted when this pesticide was transferred to beverage containers. A single sip can be fatal.
Paraquat-specific training is available for paraquat users at their convenience at How to Use and Handle Paraquat-Containing Products. Once the user successfully completes the training, a certificate will be automatically generated. Applicators are required to retain certificates of training completion.
Ric Bessin, Extension Entomologist