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 more than 20 years ago 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 stewardshipDescription 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.