Paraquat is toxic if swallowed and the concentrated formulations are irritants to eyes and skin. There have been highly publicized reports of fatalities related to the ingestion of paraquat.
Accidental ingestionWhen 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. Steps were introduced in the late 1970s and early 1980s to address this problem:
- Pack sizes were changed to discourage the practice of decanting
- A new global labeling standard was introduced
DescriptionThe 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 Resourceshttp://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. and training efforts were enhanced to ensure that people handling paraquat were aware that it contains chemicals and should be used exclusively for the control of weeds. These were directed, in particular, towards smallholder farmers in developing countries where the majority of incidents occurred
- Paraquat formulations were given three 'safening' agents to avoid accidental ingestion and to deter misuse:
- blue dye
- alerting agent (a strong and deterring odor)
- emetic (to induce vomiting).