Target: Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Goal: Ban the use of paraquat, a dangerous herbicide
A dangerous herbicide called paraquat is responsible for more than 250,000 poisoning fatalities each year. It has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and low fertility in humans. Many animals, including companion pets and wild animals, are killed each year by this highly toxic chemical. Despite the dangers associated with paraquat, it remains one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. We must ban the use of this dangerous herbicide in order to protect public health and the environment.
Thirty-two nations have already banned paraquat. The European Union disallowed its use in 2007, and China followed suit in 2012 “in order to protect the health and safety of the people”. Some organizations, such as food giant Dole, have voluntarily restricted its use. However, paraquat continues to be legal and widely used in the United States.
Even though paraquat is legal in the U.S., it has been described by the Environmental Protection Agency as “extremely biologically active and toxic to plants and animals”. The Environmental Risk Management Authority in New Zealand has stated that paraquat is “very ecotoxic to the aquatic environment”. Amphibians such as frogs, which are already highly threatened due to climate change, suffer hormonal disruptions by exposure to residue from the herbicide. The half-life of paraquat in soil can be up to 20 years, and in water as long as 820 years.
Two teaspoons of paraquat is enough to kill a human. It is widely used as a method to commit suicide, especially in third world countries. In Samoa, for example, paraquat is used in 70% of suicides. Many murders have been attributed to paraquat poisoning, including an indiscriminate killing spree in Japan in 1985. Paraquat has also been commonly used in the deliberate poisoning of many household pets.
According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, paraquat is a neurotoxicant. Even low doses of the herbicide during childhood can adversely affect neurological development. Studies have shown that paraquat can cause Parkinson’s disease and accelerate its development. It has also been linked to skin cancer.
Given the dangers that paraquat poses to humans, animals, and the environment, it is astonishing that it continues to be so widely used. There are many alternative weed controls that can be used to replace this dangerous substance. A ban on paraquat would save the lives of numerous humans and animals and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological impairments. We must act now to ban this dangerous herbicide.
Dear Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator,
Paraquat is a dangerous herbicide that is widely used in the United States. Your own agency has described this chemical as “extremely biologically active and toxic to plants and animals”. It causes many deaths each year and has been linked to Parkinson’s disease and cancer. It is also extremely toxic to wild and domestic animals.
Paraquat has been banned in 32 other nations, including China and the European Union. Given the dangers associated with this herbicide, I find it appalling that it continues to be used in the United States. Many alternative weed controls are available to replace this dangerous substance. A ban on paraquat would save the lives of numerous humans and animals and reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological impairments. I urge you to take action to ban paraquat.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: European Chemicals Bureau via Wikimedia Commons