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Updyke’s tree poison will not make Auburn oaks keepsakes toxic, school officials say

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Updyke’s tree poison will not make Auburn oaks keepsakes toxic, school officials say

AUBURN, Alabama — Auburn University announced today it will cut its famous oak trees at Toomer’s Corner into keepsakes for sale to fans.

But the announcement raises new questions about the poison used by convicted tree killer Harvey Updyke Jr.

Could the wide spectrum herbicide, tebuthiuron, make the mementos hazardous to human health?

“Won’t the keepsakes be toxic?” wrote user alfanman, a self-described “BAMA FAN.”

Auburn University says no.

Mike Clardy, director of university communications, told today that Auburn consulted with Dow AgriSciences before deciding what merchandise could be made from the wood.

Dow manufactures the herbicide Updyke used on the trees following the 2010 Iron Bowl in which Auburn edged out the University of Alabama in a 28-27 victory.

“The experts at Dow AgriSciences are confident any tebuthiuron in the mementos poses no threat to the health of humans and other mammals,” said Gary Keever, Auburn horticulture professor. “The herbicide is not carcinogenic, doesn’t cause birth defects or mutations, dermal toxicity is low, and the amount that may be in the wood is infinitesimally small.”

A 2002 assessment of the herbicide’s human health impact by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found tebuthiuron did not cause cancer in rodent test subjects and found no acute or chronic human health risk for consumption through food or drinking water.

However, the agency did not study the potential risks of residential exposure since tebuthiuron is not registered for home use, or for use around schools, parks or other areas where children are likely to be present.

According to EPA reports, tebuthiuron is absorbed through the roots. It kills the plant by impeding photosynthesis.

Auburn plans to remove the poisoned oaks April 23. University officials said today they anticipate keepsakes made from the trees will be available the following week.

School officials have not said what the keepsakes will look like or how much they will cost, but they plan to provide further detail leading up to the trees’ removal.

Revenue from the keepsakes will go to provide scholarships at the school.

Written by vaphc

April 11, 2013 at 6:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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