FAQs - Accidental Ingestion

A. Yes. When paraquat was first introduced in the 1960s, a common malpractice was to decant pesticides into smaller containers such as drink bottles, without appropriate labeling. The original paraquat formulations were odorless reddish-brown liquids, which led them to be mistaken for drinks such as cola, tea, or red wine. Regrettably, a series of fatal poisonings due to mistaken ingestion occurred.
A. Over the years a comprehensive understanding of paraquat have been developed. Like many natural and synthetic chemicals, paraquat has a harmful effect on the human body when swallowed in sufficient quantity. Paraquat concentrates in kidney and lung cells and high concentrations can overwhelm cellular defense mechanisms and lead to lung and kidney damage. (For more information see Lock and Wilks, 2001.) For a more complete understanding of how the paraquat mechanism affects the human body and available treatment options, refer to the following website, which contains material jointly produced by members of the Health Assessment and Environmental Safety Department of Syngenta and the Medical Toxicology Unit, Guy's & St Thomas' Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK: http://www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/en/pqmedguide/Pages/index.aspx    
A. The treatment for someone who has ingested product concentrate that contains paraquat begins with the patient drinking a water suspension of adsorbents such as bentonite clay, Fuller's Earth, or activated charcoal. This takes advantage of the product's property to bind with clay to render it inactive. Purgatives can be used to help get paraquat out of the system. Treatment booklets with additional information are made available to medical authorities and poison centers, worldwide. For a more complete understanding of how the paraquat mechanism affects the human body and treatment options, refer to the following website, which contains material jointly produced by members of the Health Assessment and Environmental Safety Department of Syngenta and the Medical Toxicology Unit, Guy's & St Thomas' Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK: www.syngenta.com/pqmedguide/index.html
A. In the 1960s and 1970s there were fatalities from accidental swallowing of paraquat formulations. This was mainly due to mistaken swallowing after decanting into non-pesticide containers such as drink bottles. Steps were introduced in the late 1970s and early 1980s to ensure that people handling paraquat were aware that it contains chemicals and should be used exclusively for the control of weeds. Syngenta, the leading manufacturer of paraquat, has added three 'safening' agents into all of its SL paraquat formulations to avoid accidental ingestion and to deter misuse: · a blue dye (to avoid confusion with beverages), · an alerting agent (a strong and deterring odor), · and an emetic (to induce vomiting). This has since been incorporated into the FAO specification for paraquat, most recently updated in 2003 and 2008. Accordingly, paraquat technical material as well as SL and SG formulations must contain an effective emetic at minimum levels. These materials may also include colorants and olfactory alerting agents. Syngenta’s paraquat products comply with the FAO specification. The revised paraquat specification is available here: Commentators have noted the beneficial effect of these stewardship

Description

The responsible and ethical management of a crop protection product in a way that takes full and balanced account of the interests of users, future generations, and other species.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources

http://www.croplife.org/ CropLife International is a global federation representing the plant science industry and a network of regional and national associations in 91 countries. These organisations are committed to sustainable agriculture through innovative research and technology in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology.
activities in countries such as Malaysia and Costa Rica in greatly reducing accidental swallowing (Sabapathy, 1995; Wesseling et al., 1997).
In addition, paraquat package labels from leading manufacturers provide clear safety instructions in the language of the country and, in the case of poor literacy, using pictograms.
A. No. The safening agents added by Syngenta are not mandatory in all countries and some, but by no means all, companies that manufacture paraquat use them.
A. Yes. There is no doubt that over the past 40 years since the use of CPPs became widespread, much has been learned about their safe use. Training and education programs focused on effective and safe use as well as publicity about the dangers of overuse and misuse have all served to increase users awareness of the need for care when handling and using CPPs. Recent evidence suggests that while accidents and occupational incidents still occur, the majority of growers are using crop protection products without harm to their health and a good deal of progress has been made in adopting safe use practices.
A. Like all CPPs, the manufacturers of paraquat are subject to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) code of conduct. This code lays out the responsibilities in distribution and use of the various stakeholders in the industry. You can view the code of conduct on the FAO website at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y4544e/y4544e00.htm