Herbicide residues in leaves of Erythroxylum coca var. coca plants treated with soil-applied tebuthiuron and hexazinone

J Environ Sci Health B. 1998 Sep;33(5):581-94. doi: 10.1080/03601239809373164.


The herbicide residue levels in leaves of Erythroxylum coca var. coca Lam. plants treated with soil applications of tebuthiuron and hexazinone at 3.36 and 6.72 kg a.i. ha-1 were determined in order to estimate the potential for human exposure to these residues from consuming the leaves or cocaine produced from them. Field-grown plants were treated with a commercial formulation of tebuthiuron or hexazinone and leaves were harvested at the first indication of herbicide injury (i.e. chlorosis and/or necrosis) and at the onset of leaf abscission. Herbicide residues were detected by HPLC in leaf samples from both harvests of all plants treated with tebuthiuron or hexazinone. At 3.36 kg ha-1, herbicide residues in the leaves were less than 2 micrograms g-1 dry wt. for both harvests of both experiments. The highest residue levels detected were 5.90 micrograms g-1 dry wt. for tebuthiuron and 7.17 micrograms g-1 dry wt. for hexazinone in leaves from plants treated with the herbicide at the rate of 6.72 kg ha-1 and harvested at the onset of leaf drop. Based on published toxicity data and estimates of leaf consumption, the herbicide residues in leaves of E. coca var. coca plants treated with tebuthiuron or hexazinone at twice the recommended control rates or less would have a negligible contribution to the health risks of individuals who chew coca leaves. Furthermore, based on the most conservative estimates of cocaine yield and herbicide carry over, death by cocaine overdose would occur long before the NOEL for either herbicide was reached.

MeSH terms

  • Cacao*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Herbicides / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Methylurea Compounds / analysis*
  • Pesticide Residues / analysis*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Triazines / analysis*


  • Herbicides
  • Methylurea Compounds
  • Pesticide Residues
  • Triazines
  • tebuthiuron
  • hexazinone