Paraquat is widely used under high-risk conditions in India. Problems of poverty are exacerbated by the exposure to this highly hazardous pesticide, as users have no means to protect themselves or obtain relevant information. In some places paraquat is sold in plastic carrying bags; many users can’t read the label; it is mixed with other ingredients that are not recommended; it is sprayed with leaking knapsack sprayers; and it is applied on crops for which its use has not been approved. This study shows again that “safe use” of highly hazardous pesticides in daily practice, in developing countries and countries in transition, is an illusion. The study also shows that the use of paraquat in India violates the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management, and that the manufacturers, distributors and relevant authorities in India have a duty to rectify this situation. Farmers use paraquat in their fields for controlling weeds. A total of 14 commercial names of paraquat dichloride have been found to be sold in the study sites. It is being used in about 25 crops (in the study area) including cereals, pulses, oil seeds, vegetables and cash crops while the Central Insecticide Board & Registration Committee (CIBRC) has approved its use in only nine crops. Farmers buy and use paraquat in an unsafe manner. It was found that paraquat is sold in plastic carry bags to farmers who demand 100ml or 200ml of the product. Neither the retailers recommend personal protective measures while handling paraquat nor do the farmers adopt them. Particularly, when it is sold in plastic carry bags the risk of exposure and poisoning is higher through spillage, inhalation as well as contact.
April 23, 2015