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Metribuzin – toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 by

Metribuzin is a selective herbicide belonging to the triazine class of chemicals. As such, metribuzin works by inhibiting photosynthesis in susceptible plant species. This chemical is usually applied to annual grasses and the broadleaf weeds that proliferate vegetable crops and fields. Metribuzin is available as a liquid suspension, dry flowable formulations, or water-dispersible granules that appear off-white or beige in color.

List of known side effects

Exposure to high amounts of metribuzin can be highly dangerous and even fatal in some cases. One example is an animal study that focused on rats and acute exposure to metribuzin, which caused the animals to experience narcosis and labored breathing. The rats died within 24 hours. Similar effects were observed in the animal studies that revolved around chronic metribuzin exposure. The animals in those studies lost weight, underwent changes to their blood chemistry, displayed signs of kidney and liver damage, and ultimately died in great numbers.

Metribuzin can cause acute toxicity if swallowed or inhaled. Moreover, both routes of entry can lead to mild irritation to the mucous membrane and lungs.

As a combustible solid, metribuzin should never be around open fire or sparks. Incomplete combustion will cause this substance to emit smoke and carbon monoxide. Poisoning by carbon monoxide can result in headaches, nausea, confusion, coma, and even death.

Metribuzin is considered to be an environmental hazard, and has been classified as being “very toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.” Furthermore, metribuzin can range from being moderately to slightly toxic to birds, and has been observed inducing phytotoxicity or plant injuries in non-target plant species.

Body systems affected by metribuzin

As per the Pesticide Properties Database, metribuzin can affect the endocrine system. Among the endocrine issues linked to metribuzin exposure are hyperthyroidism (a condition wherein the thyroid produces too much of the thyroxine hormone) and somatotropin level alteration (either a deficiency or excess of the human growth hormone). Because of these effects, metribuzin is thought of as a thyroid toxicant.

Other animal studies have shown that metribuzin can influence the function of the liver by causing liver enzyme changes and depress the central nervous system, suggesting that this substance targets these as well.

Items that can contain metribuzin

The following companies are said to have manufactured or supplied metribuzin at one point, or continue to do so to the present day:

  • AgriGuard
  • Bayer CropScience
  • DuPont
  • Greencrop
  • Makhteshim-Agan

Additionally, these products contain metribuzin as an active ingredient:

  • Artist
  • Lexone 2
  • Sencorex WG
  • Shotpu
  • Sencor

Furthermore, there’s a chance that these crops have been sprayed with metribuzin or chemicals containing this substance:

How to avoid metribuzin

To properly store metribuzin, keep in its original container and place it in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space away from direct sunlight. Keep metribuzin away from incompatible substances like strong oxidizing agents, acids, and bases, as well as flames and sparks.

To avoid exposure during spillage, wear goggles, overalls, and gloves made of suitable materials like rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Dust masks are recommended as well if there’s a buildup of dust.

Where to learn more


Metribuzin is a chemical that’s been found to target the central nervous system, liver, and thyroid, and can cause serious damage to any of these if medical treatment isn’t immediately given. High amounts of metribuzin can result in necrosis, labored breathing, and death. It can also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning if ignited. Metribuzin is highly toxic to fish, moderately toxic to birds, and can injure non-target plants.

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