Lawn Reform, What's Happening

Dead trees! Killer compost! Thanks to DuPont and their herbicide Imprelis.

Spruce2(1) Boy, this sounds familiar.  A new chemical that's claimed to safely kill dandelions and other turfgrass weeds turns out to be not safe at all.  This time the unintended consequence is killing nearby trees

We heard from Mother Earth News about it, asking us to spread the word that:

  • Conifer trees near lawns treated with Imprelis, especially Norway spruce and white pines, have shown signs of damage after Imprelis was used. Signs include brown and curled growth.
  • Damage has been reported in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Delaware.
  • DuPont recently sent a letter asking applicators to spray well away from the root zone of trees and shrubs and to make sure no drift or runoff could impact those ornamentals.
  • If you suspect that your trees or garden plants have damage from Imperis, get them tested through your local Extension service. They may also have tips to minimize damage.

We also heard from a law firm representing one homeowner and an Indiana golf course looking to gather more plaintiffs. From their website:

Introduced to the market in late 2010, DuPont claims Imprelis is "effective against a very wide spectrum of important turfgrass weeds." Many landscapers and professional gardeners switched to Imprelis to control weeds in turf such as dandelions because Imprelis was claimed to be safer for the environment than predecessors such as 2,4-D.

Substantial tree damage has been reported throughout the Midwest, in East Coast states, and as far south as Georgia.

IMG_5214
Dandelions growing happily in turfgrass at the Rodale Institute.

Killer Compost, Too!
The killing of nearby trees is new.  What's not new is the fact that "killer compost" that can ruin gardens  or farmland for years results when clippings from Imprelis-sprayed lawns or fields are composted. 

DuPont's response to that problem has been to put a warning about it on their label – their 9-page label.  Which they know damn well most people don't read.

So spread the word, lawyer-up if you think you may have damaged trees, and next time someone tells you a new pesticide of any type is "safer", be wary.  

Photo of Imprelis-damaged spruce by Purdue University Extension.

Posted by on July 19, 2011 at 4:46 am, in the category Lawn Reform, What's Happening.
Comments are off for this post

9 Responses to “Dead trees! Killer compost! Thanks to DuPont and their herbicide Imprelis.”

  1. commonweeder says:

    This is terrible news. How can companies be allowed to put such dangerous things on the market. Think of the people who will suffer from this. It is best just not to use any of these chemicals because they can bite us when we least expect it.

  2. Liz says:

    People should read the label even if its 9 pages. It’s stupid not too. You can skip sections that obviously don’t apply (like spraying in orchards when you are spraying on your lawn.) Chemicals are safe if you follow all the label directions, but aren’t if they are ignored or not read.

  3. susan harris says:

    Liz, we all agree people should read labels but this chemical turned out not to be safe even when the label IS read and followed.

  4. Oh my! I recently received a letter from a city where I have a rental property about a dead tree on my property. It was sent in error, but on canvassing the neighborhood of my rental, I was amazed at the sheer number of trees that appeared to have some sort of issue (because they are dying or are dead) nearby. I don’t do any sort of herbiciding on the rental property. I thought it might be attributable to or strange extreme weather, but now I see I can add another element to the mix of possibilities.

  5. susan harris says:

    One of the Garden Professors has an interesting post about the press and spin he’s seeing about Imprelis. https://sharepoint.cahnrs.wsu.edu/blogs/urbanhort/archive/2011/07/18/spin-cycle.aspx

  6. wendy says:

    Good God, not another lawsuit! I can see the piles and piles and piles of paper that will be used for pleadings and briefs and motions. But it’s okay…. we’re suing to protect the environment. *wink*

  7. Karla says:

    The New York Times did an article about this last week. New York is one of only two states that has not yet approved this chemical for use–merely because of regulatory red tape. Even if it turns out to be a tree killer, it’s not likely that its registration will be revoked, the article said–there will just be label changes. Very sad.

  8. If someone I’m interviewing for garden work wants to use pesticide or insecticide sprays, the interview has ended. I’ve always read labels–I just have to read a few more labels these days.

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