On March 8, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of a required training module for certified applicators using paraquat dichloride, also known as paraquat. This training was developed by paraquat manufacturers as part of EPA’s 2016 risk mitigation requirements and has been approved by the EPA. This training covers paraquat toxicity, new label requirements and restriction, consequences of misuse, and other important information.
Paraquat dichloride, also known as paraquat, is a widely used product in many commodities grown in Louisiana. Since 2000, 17 deaths have been caused by accidental ingestion of paraquat in the U.S. Many of these deaths resulted from people illegally transferring the pesticide to beverage containers and the victim later mistaking it for a drink.
To assist in preventing these tragedies, product manufacturers will be required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have new label requirements that emphasize paraquat toxicity along with supplemental warning materials. Also, the new labels will restrict the use of paraquat products to certified applicators only. Companies are required to have the newly labeled product on the market after Nov. 14, 2019. Some may produce and sell newly labeled product before that date.
The new label requirements will require anyone handling paraquat to be a certified applicator and require handlers to complete a training module for certified applicators using paraquat. This training was developed by paraquat manufacturers as part of the EPA’s 2016 risk mitigation requirements and has been approved by the EPA. The training covers paraquat toxicity, new label requirements and restrictions, consequences of misuse and other important information.
Paraquat is a restricted-use pesticide for use only by a certified applicator. This new restriction applies to mixing, loading and applying paraquat, as well as other pesticide handling activities.
With the new label, applicators that are using this product will be required to be a certified pesticide applicator and must take an EPA-approved training course. In addition to this training, applicators will be required to take a 15-question exam and score 100%. The certification awarded for this product-specific training will be good for three years once an applicator has completed this training and passed the exam. The training is only available online at this time and is produced by the product manufacturer.
Once applicators have completed the required training and testing for the product, they will receive a certificate documenting completion of the requirement. It is the applicator’s responsibility to save that documentation. Applicators will need this documentation and current certification with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) in order to purchase paraquat products.
This requirement for training is only one of several actions EPA has taken to prevent poisonings with new label changes including:
The EPA is allowing the sale of paraquat that is already in the channels of trade, so some paraquat sold this growing season may NOT have the new training requirement on the label. If the new training requirement is listed on the label of the product purchased, they MUST complete the training. Growers that currently have a supply of paraquat that DOES NOT have the new labeling listing the required training ARE NOT required to complete the training.
Additional information can be found at Pesticide Worker Safety - Paraquat Dichloride Training for Certified Applicators.
For more information on how to become a certified applicator in Louisiana, please contact the LSU AgCenter Pesticide Safety Education Program.
Find more information from the EPA on Paraquat Certified Applicator Training to Prevent Poisonings.
Author: Kimberly Pope Brown, Instructor, School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences