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EPA halts sale of DuPont’s Imprelis herbicide

More than 7,000 reports of tree damage received

NEW YORK — DuPont was ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday to stop selling and recall its Imprelis herbicide, following thousands of complaints that the treatment kills trees.

The order came after the EPA in June began getting reports from state agencies of damage to evergreens linked to Imprelis, which DuPont had marketed to control weeds in recreational areas such as golf courses and commercial properties such as sod farms.

According to the agency, DuPont has submitted more than 7,000 reports of damage or death to such trees as Norway spruce and white pine, as well as test data confirming a link between Imprelis and tree damage. The EPA said it approved Imprelis for use last August.

DuPont did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The Wilmington, Delaware-based chemicals company had marketed the herbicide to professional landscapers and pest control experts but on Aug. 4 announced plans to recall Imprelis and halt sales.

DuPont has not broken out sales for Imprelis. Its agriculture business, which includes herbicides, typically accounts for nearly one-third of net sales, which totaled $31.51 billion in 2010.

The company has said Imprelis went through more than 400 trials prior to sale, and had been approved for use in all U.S. states except California and New York.

According to the EPA, Imprelis was sold in 4.5-ounce, one-gallon and two-gallon containers. The agency is still investigating whether tree damage was caused by misuse, inadequate warnings, absorption of the herbicide through tree roots, environmental factors or other factors.

In afternoon trading, DuPont shares were up $2.41, or 5.4 percent, at $46.83. DuPont is a component of the Dow Jones industrial average.

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