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What is Occurring with Gramoxone - Paraquat?
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 03/26/2020

In the last three years, there has been an extensive review of paraquat products. The review is in response to deaths caused by accidental ingestion of paraquat from unlabeled containers leading to the death of 17 individuals.

Robert Crasswell, Ed Crow, Sharon Gripp and Jon Johnson Wednesday posted a co-authored article to help producers of all sizes know the latest information and rules on paraquat products.

There have also been three deaths due to dermal exposure or eye contact. The overall goal has been to reinforce that paraquat must not be stored in improper containers. As a result, a new label for paraquat products has been developed.

The main change is that only individuals that are certified applicators may mix, load or apply paraquat. The old rule allowing the use of paraquat "under the direct supervision of a certified applicator" will no longer be valid. In addition, users must complete and pass an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved on-line training, the authors point out.

After completing the EPA-approved training module, applicators will need to take and pass an online exam. After successful completion, you will receive a certificate of success. You will need print out that certificate and file it with your farm records. Applicators will keep that certificate for three years. At the end of that three-year period, you will need to retake and pass the exam and print out the new certificate.

The new label will be attached to any product produced after December 10, 2019. Fortunately, there is sufficient product supply that has the old label. Until that old labeled product has been used up you can follow the old application methodology that is listed on the label.

In addition to the requirement for a certified applicator, the containers will be redesigned. New product will have a specific tamper-proof dispensing spout. New product packages will be designed with a male connection that will only fit a specific female connection to your sprayer tank. At the present time, it is uncertain how the female connection will be designed, who will manufacture it or who and how it will be attached to your sprayer.

We do not know what new container sizes will be produced and equipped with the tamper-proof dispensing spout. Currently, only very large containers have the special designed dispensing spout. We also do not know if the new mixing system will allow for small volumes into smaller sprayers.

One thing that was not eliminated was the ability to continue to apply paraquat products with a backpack sprayer for small areas, the authors point out. However, this assumes that a suitable female adapter will be, or can be developed for this type of sprayer.

To address the concern about on-line training being the main source of training information, a PowerPoint presentation was recently designed and released in mid-February. This presentation can be downloaded and administered in person by an individual "trainer". This individual can be an Extension Educator or Specialist, chemical dealer or any individual. However, the trainer will need to register and abide and uphold the rules and procedures to administer and conduct the training and testing. The trainer must follow the provided script and not deviate from it. There is no time limit on the length of the training. The purpose of the training material is to stress the importance of not decanting paraquat products into unlabeled containers and to emphasize the safe handling and application of paraquat.

The test must be proctored by the trainer. No outside assistance to the students is permitted. The test is a closed book exam. Cell phones, iPads, personal computers, or other electronic information devices are not permitted during the test.

Additional questions can be directed to Courtney Wetherbee at cweatherbee@npsec.us or Ed Crow, eac24@psu.edu with the Penn State Extension Pesticide Education Program. For additional information go to the EPA's Paraquat Dichloride Training for Certified Applicators.

Please note that the situation is somewhat fluid as some questions mentioned in this post have not been fully resolved. As more information becomes available, Penn State Extension experts will update farmers and growers.

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