White pine

Homeowners and businesses have filed more than 30,000 claims stating that a DuPont herbicide called Imprelis killed thousands of trees. Restitution, expected to be paid out by the fall, will cost the giant multinational chemical and seed conglomerate hundreds of millions of dollars, the company reports.

But even with the estimated payout for claims totaling more than $500 million, DuPont still won’t publically estimate the number of tree deaths. Estimates from tree experts suggest the number could be in the hundreds of thousands.

The herbicide Imprelis was introduced to the lawn care market last year and primarily used in home lawns, golf courses and cemeteries. Within weeks of the application though, trees began dying after quickly turning brown.  The trees affected were mainly evergreen conifers, which can reach heights of more than 50 feet. The complaints led DuPont to pull Imprelis from the market and the EPA to eventually ban it.

Ironically, Imprelis (aminocycopyrachlor) was promoted as an environmentally friendly pesticide having shown to be low risk to humans and animals in clinical trials compared with other common pesticides.

Experts also can’t estimate how long it will take for the pesticide to process out of the soil, which could put replacement trees at risk as well.  The New York Times reported that experts, including Michigan State University associate professor of tree physiology Bert Cregg, fear other trees could fall victim to Imprelis as well. “Some trees look worse this year,” Cregg told the Times, which could mean that some species will take longer to show the damage from Imprelis.

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Image: Gadget_Guru