Paraquat Dichloride

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Basic Information

Paraquat dichloride, commonly referred to as “paraquat,” is one of the most widely used herbicides registered in the United States. Paraquat is also often referred to as Gramoxone (a popular end-use product).

Paraquat is used to control weeds in many agricultural and non-agricultural use sites. It is also used as a defoliant on crops, like cotton, prior to harvest.

There are no homeowner uses and no products registered for application in residential areas.

All paraquat products registered for use in the United States are Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs), which can only be sold to and used by certified applicators. 

Paraquat is highly toxic to humans. One small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote. 

Illegally transferring paraquat to beverage containers and later mistaking it for a drink has resulted in the accidental ingestion of the pesticide and caused 17 deaths since 2000 – three involving children. New packaging requirements would prevent the illegal transfer of paraquat to beverage containers.

Data also suggest that paraquat is corrosive to the skin and eyes. Since 2000, three deaths and a high number of severe injuries have been caused by paraquat getting onto the skin or into the eyes of workers handling paraquat.

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Using Paraquat Dichloride Products Safely

If you or your child come in to contact with paraquat, seek medical assistance immediately. Ingestion of paraquat can be fatal, and dermal/eye contact can have serious lasting effects.

To prevent severe injury and/or death from paraquat ingestion, a paraquat product must:

  • Be used only by a certified applicator.
  • Never be transferred to a food, drink or any other container. New packaging requirements would prevent this from occurring.
  • Always be kept secured to prevent access by children and/or other unauthorized persons.
  • Never be stored in or around residential dwellings.
  • Never be used around home gardens, schools, recreational parks, golf courses or playgrounds.

To prevent severe injury and/or death from skin or eye exposure to paraquat:

  • Follow label instructions.
  • Use personal protective equipment.

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EPA Actions

To better prevent paraquat accidental ingestions and to reduce exposure to workers who mix, load and apply paraquat, EPA is requiring:

  • New closed-system packaging designed to prevent transfer or removal of the pesticide except directly into proper application equipment. This will prevent spills, mixing, pouring the pesticide into other containers or other actions that could lead to paraquat exposure.
  • Specialized training for certified applicators who use paraquat to emphasize that the chemical should not be transferred to or stored in improper containers.
  • Changes to the pesticide label and distribution of supplemental warning materials to highlight the toxicity and risks associated with paraquat products.
  • Restricting the use of paraquat to certified pesticide applicators only. Individuals working under the supervision of a certified applicator are prohibited from using paraquat.

These mitigation measures are described in detail, along with implementation information in the Registration Review Docket. View the mitigation measures.

EPA distributed a safety message which highlights the toxicity of paraquat and illustrates the negative repercussions of misusing paraquat to pesticide application educators for use in training sessions. View EPA’s paraquat safety message

Paraquat is currently undergoing registration review, a program that re-evaluates all pesticides on a 15-year cycle. The draft human health and ecological risk assessments are scheduled to publish next year, and a final registration review decision is anticipated in 2018. During this process, EPA may require additional mitigation beyond the measures mentioned above. All documents related to the registration review can be located in docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0855 located at

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Paraquat Dichloride Information Resources

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