Stop Paraquat
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Paraquat: Unacceptable health risks for users  (01.04.11)

In 2006, the last edition of this report was published. In these last 5 years a lot has happened. The claim of Sweden that ‘(...) paraquat is the substance most dangerous to health — in terms of acute toxicity — ever included in Annex I to Directive 91/414 (...)’ eventually lead to an EU–wide ban of paraquat including the requirement for an export notification similar to the international PIC procedure.

While some progress can be seen, this revised report reveals that adverse effects of paraquat continue to exist. In South Korea, 1,200 to 1,400 people die annually from ingesting paraquat and accidental ingestion is still common accross the world. This report shows that the herbicide paraquat causes daily suffering to a very large number of farmers, workers and their families. Problems resulting from paraquat exposure are found around the world: from the United States to Japan and from Costa Rica to Malaysia. The injuries suffered are debilitating and sometimes fatal. Associated chronic health problems are now being identified.

This report also shows that many basic conditions have not changed: In developing countries in particular, paraquat is widely used under high–risk conditions. Problems of poverty are exacerbated by the exposure to hazardous chemicalss, as users have no means to protect themselves. Personal protective equipment is largely not available; it is costly and impossible to wear in hot working conditions. While education, training and information about alternatives and pesticide risk are urgently needed to avoid pesticide use and poisonings, the basic problem is the use of high-risk chemicals like paraquat under conditions of poverty.
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