Q. Is paraquat safe to farmers and their families?
A. Under normal use conditions (i.e. as recommended on the label) paraquat is safe to users and bystanders. Using eye protection and gloves when handling concentrated product and wearing normal work wear like long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, and waterproof shoes are advised for spraying pesticides generally. Following this recommendation already provides a high and sufficient level of safety for the agricultural use of paraquat.
In 2004, paraquat was again reviewed by leading international organizations, including the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) and the UN Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), which is comprised of experts from the WHO (World Health Organization) and the FAO. These experts support that, when used as directed, there is no safety hazard associated with the use of paraquat. Its physical properties make it safe to handle, when used according to label directions.
Europe’s Scientific Committee on Plants (SCP) stated:
“Based on the field exposure studies, corroborated by information on health surveys on operators, the SCP is of the opinion that when paraquat is used as a plant protection product as recommended under prescribed good working practices, its use does not pose any significant health risk to the operators.” (SCP, 2002)
The conclusion derived from more than four decades of use and various reviews by international regulatory bodies, is that paraquat is safe to users, the environment, consumers and wildlife when used for its intended purpose as herbicide. Its safety has been confirmed by its registration for use in nearly 90 countries all around the globe including those with the most stringent regulatory requirements such as the US.