EPA Bans Sales of DuPont Imprelis after Herbicide Blamed for Tree Deaths

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced late yesterday that it is banning sales of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Imprelis-DuPont-herbicide-tree-death-side-effects-lawsuit">DuPont’s Imprelis herbicide. The EPA issued the <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Imprelis-DuPont-herbicide-tree-death-side-effects-lawsuit">Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order (SSURO) after data provided by DuPont confirmed that certain coniferous trees, including Norway spruce, white pine and balsam fir, were susceptible to being damaged or killed by the application of Imprelis.

DuPont was granted conditional approval to sell Imprelis by the EPA last fall. The herbicide, which was only available to licensed turf management professionals, was touted by DuPont as an environmentally friendly way to eliminate broadleaf weeds. But in late spring, reports began to crop up around the country of tree damage that followed Imprelis application. In June, several extension services issued warnings about Imprelis.

Since then, property owners who claim to have lost numerous trees after landscapers began applying Imprelis to their lawns have filed lawsuits against DuPont, seeking among other things, compensation to replace damaged and dead trees. The national law firm of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/">Parker Waichman Alonso, LLP has filed a dozen such lawsuits against DuPont over the tree deaths in federal courts across the Midwest, and more are pending.

“We expect at the end of the day there’s going to be more than a billion dollars of damage or as much as several billion,” <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/attorney-chaikin-jordan">Jordan Chaikin, a partner in the firm, told The New York Times. “You are talking about a lot of people who have dead trees 40 to 50 feet tall, 30 or 50 years old that each cost $20,000 or $25,000 to replace.”

Both DuPont and the EPA launched Imprelis investigations in June. In a letter issued June 17, the company warned turf management professionals that the herbicide should not be used near Norway spruce or white pine trees, or in places where the product might drift toward such trees or run off toward their roots.

In a second letter dated July 27, DuPont acknowledged that its review had found tree injuries associated with Imprelis, primarily on Norway spruce and white pine trees. On August 4, DuPont voluntarily halted the sale of Imprelis and announced it would soon establish a return and refund program.

In an ironic twist, Delaware Online is reporting that DuPont has even admitted that Imprelis damaged trees on its own property, including at the DuPont Country Club and the Stine-Haskell Research Center near Newark, where the product was developed.

The SSURO issued by the EPA yesterday requires DuPont to immediately cease the distribution, sale, use or removal of Imprelis Herbicide products, the agency said. It was issued under the 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. This requirement protects public health and the environment by ensuring safe production, handling, and application of pesticides and by preventing false or misleading product claims, the EPA said.

In a statement posted on its website, the EPA said it is investigating whether Imprelis tree death and damage is the result of 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.

It’s not known if Imprelis will be allowed to return to market once the EPA finishes its review.

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