Concerns about the safety of paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide, pushed the EPA in 2021 to ban its use on golf courses — but the EPA still allows the weedkiller to be sprayed on almonds, walnuts, alfalfa and other crops.

Concerns about the safety of paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide, pushed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2021 to ban its use on golf courses — but the weedkiller is still permitted for agricultural use, and a new first-of-its-kind analysis shows how the EPA’s continued approval of the substance has put low-income Latino communities at disproportionate risk for health impacts.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found in the study released on March 27 that 5.3 million pounds of paraquat were sprayed over a five-year period in California, the only state with readily available figures on the herbicide.

Most of the weedkiller’s use was concentrated in central counties where farms produce almonds, walnuts, alfalfa and other crops — and where Latino people make up about 75% of the population and nearly the entire farm labor force.

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