We have reassessed the use of paraquat in New Zealand. There are new restrictions and greater controls around its use. Find out what the rules are.

11 December 2019

Paraquat is a broad spectrum contact herbicide that is used in the horticultural and agricultural sector. It is mostly used in clover seed, lucerne and kūmara production.

We have reassessed the use of paraquat in New Zealand under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.

Paraquat reassessment and decision documents

  • Paraquat is restricted to only horticultural and agricultural use. Some biosecurity use is allowed with permission.
  • There are restrictions on the rate that paraquat can be applied, how much can be applied annually, and restrictions on spray droplet size.
  • There are revised downwind buffer zones to protect aquatic environments and plants.
    Product manufacturers and importers must develop and provide improved safety information (called responsible handling information) for users. It must detail how to safely handle paraquat herbicides from storage through to disposal, and keeping the environment safe when applying paraquat.
  • Labels require new and updated information.

The new rules must be followed from 11 December 2020 at the latest, and labels must be updated before 11 December 2021.

Dates rules and restrictions take effect

This guide details how the rules affect:

Three substances that contain paraquat are approved for use (see Table 1).

From 11 December 2020, Uniquat 250, Parable 250, Gramoxone Inteon and Preeglone Inteon can no longer be sold or used in New Zealand. Contact your local council or commercial waste disposal specialist for information on how to appropriately dispose of any remaining substances.

Table 1: Approval status of paraquat and substances containing paraquat

Substance Approval status Trade names Approval number or former approval number if not approved Additional notes
Paraquat Approved - HSR003041 This approval is for the pure active ingredient to be used in Manufacturing, and for research and development only
Soluble concentrate containing 115 g/litre diquat as the dibromide salt and 135 g/litre paraquat as the dichloride salt Approved Kuatout
Preeglone
Speedy Herbicide
HSR000447 -
Soluble concentrate containing 200–250 g/litre paraquat as the dichloride salt Approved AGPRO Paraquat 200
Gramoxone 250
Flash Herbicide
Parable
Paraquat 200SL
PQ 200
HSR000828 -
Gramoxone Inteon Not approved - HSR007847 -
Parable 250 Not approved - HSR100572 -
Preeglone Inteon Not approved - HSR007854 -
Uniquat 250 Not approved - HSR007854  

Requirements for importers and manufacturers

If you are an importer or manufacturer of paraquat or substances containing paraquat, there are controls and restrictions you must comply with. Most of the new requirements and restrictions come into force on 11 December 2020, with some new labelling requirements by December 2021.

See Table 3 for more information

There are existing controls and restrictions

Notifying the EPA

The specification and notification requirements for the single chemical paraquat approval (HSR003041) have not changed. You must continue to provide us information relating to the manufacture of paraquat and details of associated impurities. These notifications can be sent to notification@epa.govt.nz

Formulations

Paraquat herbicides must contain effective emetics and stenching agents. They provide protection against accidentally swallowing paraquat.

There are new controls and restrictions

The level of impurities allowed

Paraquat herbicides cannot be formulated using paraquat that contains impurities at concentrations in excess of:

  • total terpyridines: 0.001 g/kg (1.0 ppm) maximum
  • free 4,4'-bipyridyl: 1.0 g/kg (1,000 ppm) maximum.

Develop responsible handling information

You must develop safety information, called responsible handling information for users, to protect people and the environment. This is in addition to the product’s label and safety data sheet. Responsible handling information must be available by 11 December 2020.

It has to be easy to understand, accessible and free of charge. You can decide how it is presented, for example, you could produce a brochure, a video, or have the information online. Your product label needs to tell people how to access this information (see interim labels). The responsible handling information must be kept up to date and include the following information.

  • Your contact details.
  • Changes to regulations and when they come into effect.
  • Advice to help users decide whether to use a paraquat herbicide. Describe how to document decision-making processes.
  • Application restrictions, for example, maximum single and annual application rates, buffer zones, minimum droplet sizes, and how to comply with these requirements.
  • Use restrictions (agricultural or biosecurity), and that biosecurity use requires a permission from the EPA (under section 95A).
  • WorkSafe requirements, and Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017.
  • The health hazards to humans and exposure risks.
  • How to safely handle paraquat herbicides, from storage through to disposal.
  • How to avoid ingesting paraquat herbicides and what to do if it is ingested.
  • What to do if there is a spillage or other exposure.
  • How to appropriately dispose of paraquat herbicides.
  • How to protect waterways from contamination.
  • How to minimise risks to birds.
  • How to protect bees.

Paraquat reassessment decision document - information about responsible handling information (pdf, 1.5MB)

Add new information to product labels

There are new requirements for the information you provide on product labels. We have done this in two stages to allow you time to use up existing products and packaging. This labelling information is in addition to current requirements detailed in the Hazardous Substances (Labelling) Notice 2017.

Hazardous Substances (Labelling) Notice 2017 (pdf, 692KB)

Information on interim labels

By 11 December 2020, the following interim information must be on products:

  • where to find the responsible handling information
  • maximum application rates
  • use is only permitted for agricultural purposes
  • refer users to safety data sheets.

You could achieve this by supplementing the existing label information using stickers or information cards attached to product packaging.

Information on new labels

From 11 December 2021, all product labels must be updated and have the following information printed on them, in addition to existing label requirements.

  • Do not apply when wind speeds are less than 3 km/h or more than 20 km/h as measured at the application site.
  • Do not transfer this product into food or drink containers, or into unlabelled containers.
Responsible handling information
  • Provide a statement that it is available, where to find it, and that it should be read prior to use. For example, you could use a website address or QR code.
Application rates 
  • Maximum single application rate = 600 g (paraquat ion) / ha.
  • Maximum annual application rate = 600 g (paraquat ion) / ha.
Application restrictions
  • Only for use for agricultural or biosecurity purposes.
  • Spray must be at least coarse grade (see ASABE droplet size classification scheme).
Buffer zones

State the specified buffer zones for ground-based and aerial applications of paraquat herbicides.

Table 2: Buffer zones for aquatic and non-target species 

Application method Affected species Application rate
Up to 400 g ai/ha Greater than 400 g ai/ha and up to 600 g ai/ha
Ground-based, excluding manual, handheld equipment Aquatic species Nil 5 metres
Non-target plants (non-threatened) Nil 5 metres
Non-target plants (threatened) 5 metres 5 metres
Aerial Aquatic species 5 metres 15 metres
Non-target plants (non-threatened) 40 metres 40 metres
Non-target plants (threatened) 60 metres 100 metres

Banned paraquat herbicides

Uniquat 250, Parable 250, Gramoxone Inteon and Preeglone Inteon are banned in New Zealand. By 11 December 2020 you:

  • cannot import, manufacture or sell them
  • must appropriately dispose of them.

Requirements for suppliers and distributors

From 11 December 2020 you must not supply or distribute approved paraquat substances unless the importer or manufacturer has provided responsible handling information to the product, and the information is easy to access and free of charge.

You must not not supply or distribute approved paraquat substance unless the importer or manufacturer has provided interim information on product labels:

  • where to find the responsible handling information
  • maximum application rates
  • use is only permitted for agricultural purposes
  • users refer to safety data sheets
  • not supply or distribute banned paraquat herbicides
  • have appropriately disposed of banned paraquat herbicides (Uniquat 250, Parable 250, Gramoxone Inteon and Preeglone Inteon)
  • only supply certified handlers.

From 11 December 2021 you must ensure the importer or manufacturer has provided new information on new product labels.

Requirements for users

Paraquat herbicides continue to be restricted to use in work places (agricultural and biosecurity), and can only be used by certified handlers. The public cannot buy or be supplied paraquat.

WorkSafe's guidance on certified handlers - WorkSafe website

Paraquat can only be used for agricultural or biosecurity purposes

Agricultural use means commercial horticulture and commercial forestry nurseries. Examples include commercial cropping systems and commercial ornamental horticulture production.

Paraquat cannot be used in forestry plantations or amenity horticulture like publicly accessible parks and gardens or street-side weed control.

Paraquat can be used as a herbicide in biosecurity operations carried out under the Biosecurity Act 1993, provided permission (under the section 95A of the HSNO Act 1996) is obtained first.

Getting permission for biosecurity operations

There are single and annual application rates

For agricultural use the application rate must:

  • not exceed 600 g (paraquat ion) per hectare for a single application
  • be no more than 600 g (paraquat ion) per hectare applied annually.

You can split the annual application quota as long as you do not exceed the single application rate. These restrictions do not necessarily extend to biosecurity use. The section 95A permission will set application rate conditions that are appropriate to the biosecurity operation.

The spray droplet size must be coarse grade

Spray droplet size must be at least coarse grade for ground-based or aerial applications, as defined in the ASABE droplet size classification scheme.

There are downwind buffer zones

Downwind buffer zones have been imposed to protect aquatic environments and non-target plants - see Table 2.

You must dispose of banned paraquat products

Uniquat 250, Parable 250, Gramoxone Inteon and Preeglone Inteon must be disposed of by 11 December 2020 in accordance with the requirements of the EPA Disposal Notice.

EPA Hazardous Substances Disposal Notice (pdf, 527MB)

Dates rules and restrictions take effect

The new rules must be followed from 11 December 2020 at the latest, and labels must be updated before 11 December 2021.

Table 3: Dates rules and restrictions take effect

Date

Control or restriction Who is responsible or affected
Immediate effect Notify EPA of the level and identity of impurities in formulations Importers and manufacturers
11 June 2020 Update safety data sheets Importers and manufacturers
11 December 2020 Stop using banned substances, and banned substances must be used up or disposed of Importers and manufacturers
Suppliers
End users
11 December 2020 Stop the importation, manufacture and sale of banned substances Importers and manufacturers
Suppliers
11 December 2020 Responsible handling information is available and being used Importers and manufacturers
Suppliers
End users
11 December 2020 Interim information on labels is provided Importers and manufacturers
Suppliers
11 December 2020 Paraquat is restricted to agricultural or biosecurity use End users
11 December 2020 Permission must be obtained for biosecurity use End users
11 December 2020 Restrictions to the quantity of a single application of paraquat are in place End users
11 December 2020 Restrictions to the quantity of paraquat that can be used annually are in place End users
11 December 2020 Restrictions to the size of spray droplets are in place End users
11 December 2020 Buffer zones are in place End users
By December 2021 Product labels are updated and are on all product containers Importers and manufacturers
Suppliers