Safety to humans

As with all chemicals, including pesticides such as paraquat, care must be taken to minimize human exposure.  FAO guidelines for personal protection when working with pesticides in tropical climates can be read here. Safety instructions on the product label must be read and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) used. Normal recommendations are: long-sleeved shirt, long trousers and boots for spraying. The addition of a face shield and gloves are recommended when mixing and handling. Any spills of undiluted product should be washed off the skin immediately and body, clothes and equipment thoroughly washed as normal after spraying.   Provided this care is applied and the product is used as directed, there is no risk to human safety with the use of paraquat. This is the conclusion reached on the basis of exhaustive laboratory toxicology studies with paraquat and over 40 years of experience in use. A consensus on the interpretation of these studies exists among the leading regulatory authorities globally. These include the World Heath Organisation and the US Environmental Protection Agency. The following comments relate to the acute toxicity of paraquat dichloride. Formulations of paraquat may have different acute toxicity. For more detailed information, please click here

Overall:

Specifically (please click here for detailed explanations):

  • Paraquat is toxic by the oral route
  • Paraquat is toxic by the dermal (skin) route
  • Paraquat is an irritant to skin and eyes
  • Paraquat is not a skin sensitizer
  • Paraquat is highly toxic by the inhalation (lungs) route (NB In their RED facts document, the US EPA concluded that for paraquat “particles used in agricultural practices (400 to 800um) are well beyond the respirable range and therefore inhalation toxicity is not a toxicological endpoint of concern” (US EPA, 1997))
  • Paraquat is poorly absorbed after oral administration
  • Paraquat can not readily be absorbed through the skin
  • Paraquat is not significantly metabolized
  • Paraquat is rapidly excreted
  • Paraquat is not genotoxic in vivo
  • Paraquat is not carcinogenic
  • Paraquat is not a developmental toxin
  • Paraquat is not a reproductive toxin
  • Paraquat is not an endocrine disruptor
  • Paraquat is not a neurotoxicity hazard
  • Paraquat does not cause Parkinson's disease