2 min read
Tractor spraying soybeans

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Paraquat dichloride is an active ingredient in many pesticide products that people use in agricultural and non-agricultural areas. Also known as paraquat, this ingredient is extremely deadly if ingested or improperly used. In most cases, a single sip can be fatal.

In order to use products with this ingredient, the EPA now requires that certified applicators take training on how to safely use these products. These new restrictions intend to help reduce accidental ingestion and other exposures to the product.

Paraquat is Deadly

Dr. Sonja Thomas, an Alabama Extension pesticides specialist, said many deaths are a result of accidental ingestion.

“According to the EPA, since 2000, there were 17 deaths caused by accidental ingestion of paraquat,” Thomas said. “Many of these deaths resulted from people illegally transferring the pesticide to beverage containers and the victim later mistaking it for a drink.”

Also since 2000, this pesticide has caused three deaths and many severe injuries by getting onto the skin or into the eyes during application.

Use It Properly and Safely

Thomas said the best advice for safe use of these products still remains that same.

“Read and follow the label directions on the product you are using, keep the product in its original packaging and never put products in any type of food container, especially a drink container.”


Paraquat serves as a weed control as well as a defoliant on many crops prior to harvest. Thomas said some of the brand name products registered in Alabama are Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat and Parazone.

After Nov. 14 of this year, the EPA requires companies to have newly labeled products on the market. Some may produce and sell newly labeled products before that date.

The following items are on the new label for paraquat products:

  • Only certified applicators, who successfully completed the paraquat-specific training, can mix, load or apply paraquat
  • Required training link: http://usparaquattraining.com
  • No longer allow application “under the direct supervision” of a certified applicator
  • Applicators must repeat training every three years
  • Restricting the use of all paraquat products to certified applicators only

Training Requirements

The EPA is allowing the sale of paraquat products already in the channels of trade.

“Some paraquat sold this growing season may not have the new training requirement on the label,” Thomas said. “Read the new label and if it lists the new training requirement on the product, growers must complete the training. Growers that currently have a supply of paraquat without the new label do not have to complete the training as stated in the EPA rules.”

More Information

Additional information about the new required trainings can be found at www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/paraquat-dichloride-training-certified-applicators. For further information, contact Dr. Thomas at sbt0010@aces.edu or 334-844-8832.


Trade names used are only to give specific information. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System does not endorse or guarantee any product and does not recommend one product instead of another that might be similar.

Did you find this helpful?