EPA Bans DuPont Co. Herbicide Imprelis, Blamed for Killing Trees

  • By: Staff Editor
  • Date: August 26, 2011
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DuPont’s herbicide Imprelis was approved for sale by the EPA in August 2010. According to a DuPont spokeswoman Kate Childress, the company had done everything in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The EPA began receiving complaints about the harmful effects of the herbicide, specifically that it was damaging trees, in June 2011. In July the agency asked DuPont to hand over thousands of reports from numerous states about tree damage and all tests related to the effect of Imprelis on trees.  


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Inadequate/misleading labeling

The agency’s Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order stated that DuPont’s test data showed that Imprelis was harmful to Norway spruce, balsam fir and other trees when it was given the initial approval. The company however did not warn or caution about potential damage to trees in its label or instructions, the EPA said in the order.

Tests for tolerance and sensitivity in extreme conditions

According to the New York Times, DuPont said that the test data indicated vulnerability only when the three tree species were exposed to “extreme conditions” in tests.

DuPont’s spokesperson said that the tests were carried out to understand the tolerance and sensitivity of these species under extreme conditions and were conducted before the product was approved by the E.P.A.

Review by EPA

In its review, the EPA is investigating whether the incidents of tree damage and death resulted due to 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.

FIFRA violations

The EPA believes that DuPont violated FIFRA, based on the company’s own test data and information gathered by the agency during investigations. Specifically the violations include:

  • Approved end-use label for Imprelis did not include Norway spruce and white pine as target species.
  • The directions for use and/or warning or caution statements on DuPont’s Imprelis labeling were inadequate to protect non-target species, such as conifer trees, thus resulting in a pesticide product that is misbranded under sections 2(q)(1)(F) and/or (G) of FIFRA. 
  • Any distribution or sale of a misbranded product is in violation of FIFRA § 12(a)(1)(E).


A number of individuals and companies have filed lawsuits following the damage wreaked by the use of Imprelis – they include property owners who lost numerous trees after landscapers and lawn care companies started using Imprelis. The costs of these damages have been projected to be in the millions of dollars.

DuPont is working on a return and refund program.

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

FIFRA is a federal law that requires the registration of pesticide products and pesticide-production facilities, and the proper labeling of pesticides. FIFRA was enacted to protect public health and the environment by ensuring safe production, handling, and application of pesticides and by preventing false or misleading product claims.

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