The Environmental Protection Agency has banned the sale of of Imprelis, a harmful herbicide that is responsible for thousands of tree deaths. The company that distributes the herbicide is now facing numerous lawsuits for the thousands of evergreen deaths countrywide.
DuPont, the company that distributes Imprelis, has been ordered by the EPA to stop the sale and distribution of Imprelis. The order was issued under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). FIFRA is a federal law that requires that pesticides be properly labeled and all products and production facilities must be registered. The law is designed to protect the health of both the public and the environment by making sure that pesticides are used in a safe and effective manner.
Imprelis is an herbicide that is used to control weeds. The herbicide has harmed a large number of trees, particularly Norway spruce and white pine. In the EPA’s investigation of Imprelis, the agency looked into the possible causes of the numerous tree deaths. Possible reasons included misuse of the product, environmental factors, possible runoff issues, or unsatisfactory warnings on the label of the product.
Imprelis was approved for sale last October. Ironically, the product was once marketed as an “environmentally-friendly” herbicide, with claims that the product did not pose a risk to animals. A spokesperon for DuPont has described Imprelis as having a “very favorable environmental profile.” Before being taken off the market, Imprelis was only available for purchase by professionals specializing in turf and landscaping. The main ingredient in Imprelis is Aptexor, which is described by DuPont as “the first compound in an advanced generation of carboxylic acid herbicides.” Imprelis is specifically intended to kill weeds such as clovers and dandelions.
On June 17th of this year, DuPont issued a letter advising against using Imprelis where Norway spruce or white pine was present. On July 27th, DuPont admitted to the EPA that Imprelis was the likely cause of the deaths of Norway spruce, white pine, and other evergreens. The company has since set up a website with information about the use of Imprelis. On August 4th, DuPont voluntarily halted the sale of Imprelis with the promise of product returns and refunds.
Even though Imprelis has been taken off the market, the damage to evergreens has already been done. Agricultural experts have estimated that the number of tree deaths attributable to Imprelis could be in the hundreds of thousands. DuPont is already facing a dozen lawsuits filed by the law firm Parker, Waichman and Alonso. Trees deaths attributed to Imprelis have occurred nationwide, ranging from the East Coast to the Midwest. The damage to the trees has been estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
The recent death of thousands of trees is not the first instance of widespread tree death in the United States. The emerald ash borer, an invasive species of beetle native to Asia, was accidentally introduced to the United States and Canada in the 1990s. The beetle has so far been responsible for the death of 50-100 million ash trees and could possibly kill almost all of the 7.5 billion ash trees in North America. Experts have acknowledged that the evergreen deaths due to Imprelis are the worst tree death catastrophe since the introduction of the emerald ash borer.
In an effort to determine the exact cause of the evergreen tree deaths, the Environmental Protection Agency is continuing to conduct an investigation into the use of Imprelis. So far, it is unclear whether or not the herbicide will be for sale after the investigation is completed.
Photo Credit: dnr.state.oh.us/Portals/18/trees/imagetrees/spruce_nrwy_tr3_sm.jpg