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Isoproturon – toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Thursday, November 30, 2017 by

Isoproturon is a selective, systemic herbicide typically applied to cereal crops to halt the growth of annual grasses and broad-leaved weeds. This chemical belongs to the phenylurea family, meaning it’s intended to be a relatively non-toxic herbicide.

However, a European Union (EU) committee found isoproturon to be an endocrine disruptor capable of causing birth defects, cancerous tumors, and other ailments relating to the reproductive system. As such, the committee banned the use of isoproturon across Europe.

List of known side effects

Apart from disrupting the endocrine system, isoproturon can cause urea compound poisoning as well. According to, the symptoms of this condition include:

  • Confusion
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Electrolyte depletion
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting

Chronic exposure to isoproturon can lead to more severe symptoms, such as:

  • Moderate emphysema
  • Protein metabolism disturbances
  • Weight loss

Furthermore, isoproturon can induce systemic toxicity. This has only been observed with the ingestion of large amounts of isoproturon, however.

Isoproturon is “suspected of causing cancer.” Though rather than being a complete carcinogen, various studies have suggested that isoproturon is more of a tumor promoter. Among those studies, some found that isoproturon increased hepatocellular tumors in male and female rats.

This chemical is a highly flammable liquid that can emit toxic fumes.

Body systems affected by isoproturon

Isoproturon is known to harm the skin and respiratory tract on contact. Prolonged or repeated exposure to this chemical can cause serious damage to various organs and organ systems, most notably:

  • Blood system
  • Central nervous system
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Respiratory tract

Items that can contain isoproturon

According to the Pesticide Properties Database, isoproturon is an active ingredient in many herbicide brands, such as:

  • Alpha IPU 500
  • Alpha Isoproturon
  • Ingot
  • Koala
  • Javelin
  • Javelin Gold
  • Protugan
  • Tolugan Extra
  • Trump

Moreover, these companies are known to have manufactured and supplied isoproturon at one point, or continue to do so:

  • AgriGuard
  • BASF
  • Bayer CropScience
  • DAPT
  • Makhteshim-Agan
  • Nufarm
  • Rotan CropScience

How to avoid isoproturon

To minimize isoproturon exposure, keep this chemical in its original container or in an approved alternative when storing it. Place it in a cool, dry area away from heat, sparks, open flames or other ignition sources. When handling isoproturon, make it a point to wear the appropriate protective equipment at all times, and avoid drinking, eating or smoking during this time.

Where to learn more


Isoproturon is an endocrine disruptor and possible tumor promoter that’s been linked to various other health problems. Among these are its ability to induce urea compound poisoning, the symptoms of which can vary from nausea and vomiting to electrolyte depletion and weight loss. Chronic exposure to isoproturon has been found to cause damage to many organ systems such as the respiratory system, kidneys, and central nervous system. In addition, isoproturon is highly flammable.

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