The herbicide 2,4-D was used in the 1940’s, and its hazards are a function of its form (salt, ester, acid).  A person may be exposed to 2,4-D through inhalation, skin and eye contact, or ingestion. For more details, click this LINK on 2,4-D from the National Pesticide Information Center.

Health Effects

  • 2,4-D has generally low acute toxicity if contacts skin, inhaled or gets in eyes. However, applicators should use precaution when handling acid and salt formulations because 2,4-D can cause severe eye irritation.
  • Skin irritation is possible.
  • Ingestion results in vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, confusion and, in some cases, aggressiveness. Some people have had kidney failure and muscle damage.
  • Inhalation of vapors may cause coughing, burning sensation in airways, and dizziness
  • Chronic exposure is linked to cancer (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), but this cancer may be linked to exposures to 2,4-D along with other ingredients or other herbicides. Caution to minimize exposure to prevent long-term effects are recommended.  The EPA currently categorizes 3,4-D as “not classifiable” regarding cancer.


Environmental Fate

  • 2,4-D breaks down in the soil quickly, with a half-life of 1-14 days, but the butoxyethyl ether form may persist in the aquatic environment longer, with a 186 day half-life reported.


Personal Protective Equipment

  • Air-purifying half-mask respirator with organic vapor cartridge in combination with filtration (N95 or greater); chemical protective gloves.
  • Typically, detailed safety directions are included on the pesticide label.  These guidelines are typically in the “worker protection”, “directions for use”, “safety directions” sections.  For more details on how to read a pesticide label, see the EPA’s Label Review Manual. (Link, EPA Label Review)