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New Herbicide Linked to Thousands of Tree Deaths

New Herbicide Linked to Thousands of Tree Deaths

A new herbicide has been linked to the deaths of thousands of trees. The DuPont-manufactured Imprelis was conditionally approved in October by the Environmental Protection Agency for use against clover, dandelion and other common weeds. The chemical, sold only to landscape professionals, has been used on countless lawns across the nation. Imprelis was believed to be an “environmentally friendly” alternative to other herbicides.

According to the New York Times:

Imprelis went through about 400 trials, including tests on conifers, and performed without problems, according to experts at DuPont and at the E.P.A. The agency reviewed the herbicide for 23 months before granting its conditional approval, meaning that all of the safety data was not yet in but the agency judged Imprelis to be a good product.

But since Memorial Day, DuPont has received numerous complaints that Norway spruces, eastern white pines and other trees were dying in areas where Imprelis was used. “We are investigating the reports of these unfavorable tree symptoms,” Kate Childress, a spokeswoman for DuPont, told the Times. “Until this investigation is complete, itís difficult to say what variables contributed to the symptoms.” The EPA has also begun an investigation.

Matt Coats, an employee of Underwood Nursery in Michigan, explained that the herbicide seems to do the most damage to trees with shallow root systems such as willows, poplars and conifers. His company is replacing the trees lost to Imprelis exposure, which totaled 350 at the time of his interview with the Times. “[That number is] climbing,” he said. “Iíve done nothing for the last three weeks but deal with angry customers.”

“This is going to be a large-scale problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of trees, if not more,” Bert Cregg, a horticulture professor and specialist at Michigan State University, told the Times.

Imprelis, also known as aminocyclopyrachlor, was thought to be among the safest of an emerging class of new herbicidal chemicals. Capable of killing very stubborn weeds such as ivy, DuPont’s researchers found that Imprelis measured very low in toxicity to mammals and could still be effective in small doses. A DuPont official, Michael McDermott, blames the tree deaths on gardeners who mixed the chemical improperly, added additional herbicides to the blend or simply applied too much of it.

Coats described the damage caused by Imprelis, telling the Times that while some trees are simply turning brown, others look “like someone took a flamethrower to them.”

In California and New York, where state environmental laws are more rigorous, Imprelis has not been approved. Researchers in New York believe the herbicide leaches into groundwater; DuPont has yet to provide counter evidence. But experts suggest the odds of an nationwide ban on Imprelis are slim. The EPA is more likely to mandate larger buffer zones for Imprelis or work with DuPont to change the herbicideís labeling, they said.

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Photo credit: Kevin Gessner

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127 comments

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6:57AM PST on Jan 30, 2012

Petition signed. Another example of drug companies and their lust for cash!!!

12:52PM PST on Jan 29, 2012

Sad. Thanks.

10:31AM PST on Jan 29, 2012

DuPont has been working to destroy this country for at least 75 years when DuPont chemists developed their first petrochemical fiber, nylon, and patented the sulfate and sulfite processes for making paper from wood pulp. About that time William Randolph Hearst, newspaper giant, was investing widely in lumber holdings as pulp for newsprint. Since hemp was cheaper and better source for paper than wood pulp, and hemp's superior fiber length, strength and low cost competed with nylon, the two commercial giants connived to destroy the hemp industry. About this time other industrial chemists were developing plastics from such biomass products as hemp. Henry Ford, at his secret biomass conversion plant, had already built a model automobile of plastics derived largely from hemp with only the frame of metal. The car's fuel was also derived from hemp. Where might we be now if DuPont didn't intervene? Our forests would be in a lot better shape & we would not be so dependent on petroleum.


5:19PM PST on Jan 23, 2012

Rachel Carson,, YES..thank YOU! The culprits are replacing the trees...gimme a break!

12:03PM PST on Jan 11, 2012

Rachael Carson warned us.

12:59AM PDT on Aug 17, 2011

is the name of the SUPER CREEP C.E.O. running this BIG CORP.,he & his family need to be aware of what his company IS RESPONSIBLE FOR!

4:52PM PDT on Aug 14, 2011

Giant chemical companies like Dupont, Monsanto, Dow, etc are destroying the earth and are among the top global terrorist organizations

6:46AM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

I heard that DuPont is looking into recall Imprelis due to the tree damages and lawsuits that are pending. They should still be liable for for any damages and pay restitution for what Imprelis has done. I have been following this site: http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Imprelis-DuPont-herbicide-tree-death-side-effects-lawsuit and they have been in on this from the beginning

11:26AM PDT on Aug 4, 2011

Petition signed.

8:16AM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

I have been following this issue very closely and have found out that another lawsuit has been filed against Dupont. I found the information about the lawsuit here: http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Imprelis-DuPont-herbicide-tree-death-side-effects-lawsuit

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