2,4-D is a widely used herbicide that controls broadleaf weeds that has been used as a pesticide since the 1940s. It is used in many places including turf, lawns, rights-of-way, aquatic sites, forestry sites, and a variety of field, fruit and vegetable crops. It may also be used to regulate the growth of citrus plants. Products are sold in liquid (concentrated or ready-to-use), dust, or granule formulations.
2,4-D products can be safely used by following label directions. The toxicity depends on its chemical forms, including salts, esters, and an acid form. 2,4-D generally has low toxicity for humans, except certain acid and salt forms can cause eye irritation. Swimming is restricted for 24 hours after application of certain 2,4-D products applied to control aquatic weeds to avoid eye irritation. 2,4-D generally has moderate toxicity to birds and mammals, is slightly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates, and is practically nontoxic to honeybees. The ester forms of 2,4-D can be highly toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Carefully follow label directions to avoid harmful effects.
2,4-D is not Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a mixture of two different herbicides: 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D (as well as kerosene and diesel fuel). 2,4,5-T contained high levels of dioxin, a contaminant, found to cause cancer and other health problems in people. Dioxins are no longer found at detectable levels in 2,4-D products sold and used in the United States. Furthermore, EPA has canceled all uses of 2,4,5-T in 1985 and no longer allow its use in the United States.
We have been evaluating the safety of 2,4-D, including the following activities:
- 2005 - Comprehensive review
- 2012 - Evaluated new state-of-the-art reproductive studies, and requests in a petition
- 2014 – Evaluated the choline salt of 2,4-D in response to a company’s request to modify the registration.
2,4-D and the related compounds are currently undergoing registration review, a program that re-evaluates all pesticides on a 15-year cycle.