Imprelis Lawsuit: DuPont's New Herbicide Is Killing Trees
DuPont's Imprelis, marketed as environmentally friendly and “the most scientifically advanced turf herbicide in over 40 years”, is the subject of a class action suit filed Friday on behalf of The Polo Fields Golf & Country Club in Southfield, Michigan and Imprelis users nationwide.
Imprelis, which went into wide use in October, has been implicated in the deaths of tens of thousands of Norway Spruce, Colorado Spruce and eastern White Pine trees and other evergreens across the U.S. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Environmental Protection Agency has opened an “expedited review” of Imprelis and EPA's action could result in the herbicide being pulled from the market, require additional testing, or require a label revision.
Imprelis was touted by DuPont as a more environmentally friendly product than 2,4-D, the herbicide of choice since 1947. In research submitted to the EPA, DuPont claimed that it conducted over 400 trials of Imprelis finding no problems with conifers; less toxicity to mammals (i.e, doesn't cause cancer); and a high effectiveness on the broadleaf weeds which plague turfgrass pros.
Unfortunately, Imprelis seems to be attacking the roots of evergreen trees when accompanied by extremely wet weather like the Eastern U.S. experienced this spring. The New York Times, in a story July 14th, wrote: “reports of dying trees started surfacing around Memorial Day, prompting an inquiry by DuPont scientists. Kate Childress, a spokeswoman for DuPont stated: “We are investigating the reports of these unfavorable tree symptoms. Until this investigation is complete, it’s difficult to say what variables contributed to the symptoms.” Addressing the class action suit, Childress stated in an email to Reuters that the suit was “unfounded” and DuPont would oppose it vigorously.
As an indicator of how powerful a chemical Imprelis is, a warning on page 7 of the Imprelis label states that "grass clippings from treated areas may not be used as mulch or compost", must be "disposed of in the trash" and "applicators are required to advise property owners" of this information. That means Imprelis can survive the heat and biological activity of the composting process and any gardeners who unwittingly use Imprelis-tainted mulch or compost on their flower beds may see considerable damage to their cherished plants.
DuPont continues to sell Imprelis but is advising landscapers not to apply it in the vicinity of white pines or spruce trees.