Trifluralin is a herbicide used to control a wide spectrum of annual grasses and broadleaf weeds in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, amenity and home garden. The major crops it is used on are oilseed rape and sunflowers and, to a lesser extent, cotton and cereals.
Approximately 3200 tonnes of active substance trifluralin annually are used in the EU (including accession countries). Trifluralin is presently authorised for use in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. Significant amounts may evaporate into the air from the agricultural use (estimated 64 t/y for total Europe), but photochemical oxidative degradation will rapidly decrease this load before it can be transported far beyond the coasts. Trifluralin has a high affinity towards organic matter and will therefore be found mostly in sediment and bound to suspended particles. Because of this high affinity to sediment, it's considered unlikely that large amounts of trifluralin enter the marine environment through run off from application areas. Trifluralin is rather stable in water, although it can rapidly be photodegraded. In a water sediment system its concentration is halved in less than 15 days.
Trifluralin is bioacumulates in organisms and is thought to biomagnify through food chains. It is also a very toxic substance, concentrations above 1 µg/l can interfere with the life cycle of some fish species, while concentrations above 12 µg/l are lethal for a few algae species. Concentrations of trifluralin in both the North Sea and the Baltic sea are bellow 0,06 ng/l. Current concentrations also don't pose a threat for high trophic sea birds or marine mammals.
Environmental standards and legislation