Q. What has been done to prevent accidental swallowing of paraquat?
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