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Nicosulfuron — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Saturday, November 18, 2017 by

Nicosulfuron is a broad spectrum, post-emergence herbicide used to control a wide range of annual and perennial grass weeds in maize, and forage maize in particular, as well as sedges and broad-leaved weeds. It is applied as foliar treatment. It appears as a white powder or colorless crystals.

It is also a systemic selective herbicide, which means it is effective in killing other plants besides weeds growing near maize. It is an acetolactase synthase inhibitor, preventing cell division and plant growth. On the other hand, maize plants can metabolize nicosulfuron into harmless compounds.

List of known side effects

According to an entry in the PubChem database, nicosulfuron causes irritation to the skin and serious damage to the eyes. Additionally, it is highly toxic to aquatic life, with long-term effects.

Genotoxicity tests (damage to DNA) on nicosulfuron indicate no significant damage. The World Health Organization International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) classified nicosulfuron as “unlikely to present acute hazard in normal use.”

Body systems affected by nicosulfuron

Based on animal toxicity studies, chronic doses of nicosulfuron cause a decrease in body weight and an increase in liver and kidney weights. Further studies showed no teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects.

There are no specific reviews for nicosulfuron exposure, but general precautions on chemical handling and application apply.

Items that can contain nicosulfuron

Nicosulfuron has been used by the following manufacturers and suppliers:

  • Clayton
  • Delta Gamma Agro
  • Ellagret
  • ISK Biosciences
  • Standon
  • Syngenta

Trade names for nicosulfuron and country of origin include:

  • Elite M – Portugal
  • Ghibli – Italy
  • Milagro – Belgium, Czech, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine
  • Mistral – Bulgaria
  • Motivell – Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia
  • Nisshin – Argentina
  • Pampa – France
  • Samson – Brazil
  • SL950 – Austria

How to avoid nicosulfuron

General precautions apply before handling and application of nicosulfuron. Wear protective goggles for the eyes and chemical-resistant gloves for the hands. Wear an impervious suit for bodily protection. Decontaminate clothing before reuse or wear disposable chemical-resistant clothing.

Where to learn more


Nicosulfuron is a broad spectrum, post-emergence herbicide used on maize to control annual and perennial grass weeds.

Nicosulfuron is a systemic selective herbicide, effectively killing other plants besides its target weeds.

Nicosulfuron appears as a white powder or colorless crystal. It is applied as foliar treatment.

Nicosulfuron is a known skin and eye irritant, but is classified as “unlikely to present acute hazard in normal use” by the IPCS.

Based on animal toxicity studies, nicosulfuron has no teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects.

Nicosulfuron is widely used in many countries under different trade names, such as Milagro and Samson. Manufacturers and suppliers using nicosulfuron in their products include Clayton, Ellagret, Standon, and Syngenta.

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