Paraquat And Intoxication: What You Need To Know

Paraquat is a contact herbicide that has been widely used in agriculture worldwide for many decades. The main reasons for its widespread agricultural use are its low cost, high efficiency and lack of cumulative polluting effects on the soil.

However, from the late 80s onwards, researchers began to identify numerous cases of intoxication associated with acute exposure to Paraquat.

Although there are several scientific works verifying the toxicity to humans and other animals, there are others that are not conclusive. In any case, there are many indications that Paraquat can in fact be a health problem and that stimulated the prohibition of its use in several countries.

Paraquat acts in the presence of light, dehydrating the green parts of all plants with which it comes into contact, after application, penetration occurs almost immediately.

It can be used in spraying in: a) directed jet in established cultures; b) total area before sowing, in the no-tillage system; c) desiccation of cultures.

It is typically used in crops, such as: bananas, coffee, sugar cane, citrus, apples, rubber trees, cotton, rice, potatoes, cabbage, beans, corn, wheat and soybeans. However, the risks posed by pesticides have become a growing concern in international communities.

Studies indicate that after acute exposure to lethal doses of Paraquat, mortality can occur several days after inhalation, thus it has been classified as a Class II moderately hazardous pesticide by the World Health Organization.

Despite its high toxicity and numerous intoxications, Paraquat was registered and sold in around 100 developed and developing countries around the world, including major agricultural markets with some of the most demanding regulatory systems such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

In the United States, Paraquat is mainly available in a liquid formulation with different concentrations. It has been classified as “restricted use”, meaning it can only be used by licensed users. In the EU, Paraquat has been banned since 2007.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that every 15 years pesticides must go through a registration review process. In 2020, the EPA, in the process of reviewing the Paraquat registry, proposed new measures to reduce the risks associated with its use.

These measures include: banning aerial application (except cotton desiccation); prohibition of application by pressurized pistol and backpack sprayer; reduction of the maximum application rate per area in some cultures; use of closed cabins 24 hours after application in large areas; among other measures.

In addition, specialized training for certified applicators using Paraquat was launched in early 2020 to ensure the pesticide is used correctly.

If you have been dealing with healthy symptoms that may have been caused by Paraquat intoxication, contact us. Our lawyers will do their best to assist you and seek the appropriate legal solutions to your case.