EPA Next Steps in Use of Pesticide in Agriculture

Source: Kritchai Chaibangyang - 123RF

The EPA has taken an important step in its regulatory review of paraquat—an herbicide used in agricultural and commercial settings only.

The Agency is seeking public input on draft human health and ecological risk assessments.

The draft risk assessments are the product of an extensive evaluation of available data on the health and environmental impacts associated with the pesticide.

These draft risk assessments are the next step in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) registration review process and are not a denial or approval of the herbicide.

EPA’s draft human health risk assessment provides estimated handler risks for mixer/loaders, loader/applicators, applicators and flaggers, and mixer/loader/applicators.

According to EPA, unintentional ingestion of paraquat has resulted in 17 deaths – including three children – since 2000.

Additionally, a 2011 study found that workers who are exposed to paraquat have more than double the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

In March, the EPA released training materials intended to help prevent poisonings among workers who apply paraquat, recommending they follow label instructions and use personal protective equipment when handling the substance.

Also, paraquat should:

  • Always be kept secured to prevent access by children and/or other unauthorized people;
  • Never be stored in or around residences; and
  • Never be used around home gardens, schools, parks, golf courses or playgrounds.

Public comments on the draft documents are due Dec. 16, 2019.