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EPA Bans Commercial 'Green' Herbicide After Tree Deaths

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On Thursday August 11, 2011 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned DuPont’s commercial ‘green’ herbicide Imprelis after numerous reports that the herbicide was causing damage to trees and killing them.

DuPont had voluntarily suspended the sale of Imprelis while the EPA investigated. The company said it would also initiate a recall and refund program by mid-August, but the EPA stepped in last Thursday demanding that DuPont halt the sale, use, and distribution of the herbicide.

Imprelis, according to reports, is a commercial herbicide that is very effective on killing weeds.  DuPont’s advertising for Imprelis led consumers to believe it was a ‘greener’ herbicide and more environmentally friendly than others. It was specifically designed to kill broadleaf weeds like creeping charlie, dandelion, clover, and ground ivy. The herbicide proved lethal for weeds, but also for Black Hills spruce, Norway spruce, Colorado blue spruce, evergreens,  and eastern white pines.

According to the Star Tribune, there has been reports of damage to deciduous trees and perennials due to the use of the herbicide.

When Minneapolis attorney Stephen Foley filed suit in U.S. District Court filed the suit earlier in the month several other complaints started coming in. He told the Star Tribune, “From what we’ve seen in the Upper Midwest where it was used a lot, the anecdotal stories are that there was wide damage. It was supposed to be the next best thing in herbicides, and then the damage reports came in.”

Foley had filed the suit on behalf of a Wayzata resident who claimed that Imprelis damaged at least 10 of his spruce trees after it was sprayed on his front lawn.

As of right now, Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont must not sell or distribute the ‘green’ herbicide in the U.S. due to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. FIFRA requires all pesticides used in the U.S. to be licensed by the EPA and, “assures that pesticides will be properly labeled and that, if used in accordance with specifications, they will not cause unreasonable harm to the environment.”

The class-action suits brought against DuPont stated that the product was not labeled properly and that the company failed to disclose that harm to trees could happen when the chemical was used as directed.

Imprelis has not been made available for over the counter use. It was only available for commercial use by turf and landscaping professionals. DuPont has yet to make a statement on whether the chemical will return to market.

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