Paraquat (1,1`dimethyl4,4`bipyridinium) are broad-spectrum contact plant killers and herbage desiccants that were introduced commercially during the past 25 years. Today, they rank among the most widely used herbicides globally and are frequently used in combination with other herbicides. The recommended paraquat field application rates for terrestrial weed control usually range between 0.28 and 1.12 kg/ha (0.25 and 1.0 lb/acre), and for aquatic weed control the range is 0.12.0 mg/l. Paraquat in surface soils generally photodecomposes in several weeks, but paraquat in subsurface soils and sediments may remain bound and biologically unavailablefor many years without significant degradation. Paraquat is not significantly accumulated by earthworms and other species of soil invertebrates and is usually excreted rapidly by higher animals; however, delayed toxic effects including death of birds and mammals are common. At concentrations below the recommended application rate, paraquat is embryotoxic to developing eggs of migratory waterfowl and adversely affects sensitive species of freshwater algae and macrophytes, larvae of crustaceans and frog tadpoles and carp. Sensitive species of birds are negatively affected at daily dose rates of 10 mg/kg body weight or when fed diets containing 20 mg/kg ration or drinking water containing 40 mg/l.
Additional publication details
Paraquat Hazards to Fish, Wildlife, and Invertebrates: A Synoptic Review
Contaminant Hazard Reviews
Report 22 ; Biological Report 85(1.22)
U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service.