Last month, Care2′s Miranda Perry reported on an herbicide that was thought to be responsible for thousands of dead and dying trees across the United States. Over 700 Care2 members signed a petition asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revoke its approval until the toxic chemical can undergo additional safety testing.
Just a few weeks later, the EPA ordered the DuPont chemical company to immediately halt the sale, use and distribution of the herbicide Imprelis, citing possible violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
The EPA’s order makes the herbicide illegal, and anyone who continues to sell or use Imprelis could be subject to civil or criminal penalties.
Designed to eliminate broadleaf weeds like dandelion and clover, Imprelis was widely used by professional landscapers because it was thought to be environmentally friendly. Approved for use in late 2010, it was only seven months before property owners started reporting withered and dying trees.
Dupont was anything but sympathetic:
In a June 17 letter to its landscape customers, Michael McDermott, a DuPont products official, seemed to put the onus for the tree deaths on workers applying Imprelis. He wrote that customers with affected trees might not have mixed the herbicide properly or might have combined it with other herbicides. DuPont officials have also suggested that the trees may come back, and have asked landscapers to leave them in the ground (New York Times).
Since approving the herbicide for licensed landscapers and lawn care services, the EPA reports that there have been over 7,000 adverse incidents involving damage (including death) to non-target trees — primarily Norway spruce and white pine — related to the application of Imprelis. Test data from DuPont has confirmed certain coniferous trees, including Norway spruce and balsam fir, as susceptible to being damaged or killed by the application of Imprelis.
In its ongoing evaluation, the EPA is investigating whether these incidents are the result of product misuse, inadequate warnings and use directions on the product’s label, persistence in soil and plant material, uptake of the product through the root systems and absorbed into the plant tissue, environmental factors, potential runoff issues or other possible causes.
Several lawsuits have been filed by individuals and companies involving the use of Imprelis. So many trees have died from the East Coast to Iowa that the damage is projected to be in the millions of dollars (Miami Herald).
Thanks to all the Care2 members who signed the petition! Your support helped remove a dangerous product from the shelves and prevented the death of thousands of trees.
Image Credit: John E. Kraminski