Trifluralin is a herbicide used to control a wide spectrum of annual grasses and broadleaf weeds. It's mainly used on oilseed rape and sunflowers and, to a lesser extent, cotton and cereals.
Approximately 3200 tonnes of trifluralin are annually used in the EU. 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), where it will be rapidly degraded. Trifluralin has a high affinity towards organic matter and will therefore be mostly found 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 unstable in water. The half-life in a water sediment system is less than 15 days.
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