- What is dichlorvos?
- What happens to dichlorvos when it enters the environment?
- How might I be exposed to dichlorvos?
- How can dichlorvos affect my health?
- How likely is dichlorvos to cause cancer?
- Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to dichlorvos?
- Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?
- Where can I get more information?
Dichlorvos is an
insecticide which is used to control insects primarily
in storage areas and barns. It can affect the nervous
system where it may cause nausea and vomiting, restlessness,
sweating, and muscle tremors at high levels. Dichlorvos
been found in at least 3 of the 1,430 National Priorities
List sites identified by the Environmental Protection
What is dichlorvos?
Dichlorvos is an insecticide that is
a dense colorless liquid. It has a sweetish smell and readily
mixes with water. Dichlorvos used in pest control is diluted
with other chemicals and used as a spray. It can also be incorporated
into plastic that slowly releases the chemical.
Dichlorvos is used for insect control
in food storage areas, green houses, and barns, and control
of insects on livestock. It is not generally used on outdoor
crops. Dichlorvos is sometimes used for insect control in
workplaces and in the home. Veterinarians use it to control
parasites on pets.
What happens to dichlorvos when it enters the environment?
- Dichlorvos enters the environment during its manufacture and use, from landfills, and from accidental spills during
transport and leaks from storage containers.
- It evaporates easily into the air, where it is broken down into less harmful chemicals.
- It will dissolve in water, where microorganisms can break it down.
- It takes about 24�??36 hours for half of the chemical to be broken down in water.
- Dichlorvos does not appear to accumulate in plants, fish, or animals.
How might I be exposed to dichlorvos?
- The general population is not likely to be exposed to dichlorvos.
- It has been found on some fruits, vegetables, and grain, but washing and processing destroys the dichlorvos.
- People who live near a hazardous waste site containing dichlorvos could be exposed by breathing contaminated air
or touching contaminated soil.
- Workers who manufacture the chemical or use it are likely to be exposed.
- People whose homes have been sprayed with dichlorvos could be exposed by breathing contaminated air or touching surfaces
where dichlorvos was applied.
How can dichlorvos affect my health?
The major effect of dichlorvos is on
the nervous system. Studies on people who were exposed to
dichlorvos by breathing air in the workplace containing low
levels of dichlorvos have not shown any harmful effects. Animal
studies have shown that breathing high levels can cause nervous
Ingesting large doses may cause nausea
and vomiting, restlessness, sweating, and muscle tremors,
while very large doses may cause coma, inability to breathe,
and death. Animal studies have also shown effects on the nervous
system when animals drank water or ate food containing dichlorvos.
It is not known whether dichlorvos can
affect reproduction or cause birth defects in people.
Animal studies have not reported effects
on reproduction or birth defects when animals were exposed
How likely is dichlorvos to cause cancer?
It is not known whether dichlorvos causes
cancer in people. A study in rats and mice reported that rats
had an increase in cancer of the pancreas and in leukemia,
and female mice had an increase in stomach cancer after they
were fed dichlorvos for 2 years.
The Department of Health and Human Services
(DHHS) has determined that dichlorvos may reasonably be anticipated
to be a carcinogen. The International Agency for Research
on Cancer (IARC) has determined that dichlorvos is possibly
carcinogenic to humans. The EPA has determined that dichlorvos
is a probable human carcinogen.
Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to dichlorvos?
There is a general test that can be used
to determine if you have been exposed to a group of insecticides,
including dichlorvos. This test measures the activity of an
enzyme called acetylcholinesterase in the blood. However,
it does not specifically show exposure to dichlorvos.
Specific tests are available to identify
dichlorvos or its breakdown products in your urine. These
tests aren't available at most doctors' offices, but can be
done at special laboratories that have the right equipment.
Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?
The EPA requires that spills or accidental
releases into the environment of 10 pounds or more of dichlorvos
be reported to the EPA.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA) has set a permissible exposure limit of 1 milligram
dichlorvos per cubic meter of air (1mg/m3) for
an 8-hour workday, 40 hour workweek.
Carcinogen: A substance with the ability to cause cancer.
CAS: Chemical Abstracts Service.
Ingest: To eat or drink something.
Insecticide: A substance that kills insects.
Leukemia: Cancer of the blood-forming organs.
Milligram (mg): One thousandth of a gram.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (ATSDR). 1997. Toxicological Profile for Dichlorvos. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Where can I get more information?
ATSDR can tell you where to find occupational and
environmental health clinics. Their specialists can
recognize, evaluate, and treat illnesses resulting from
exposure to hazardous substances. You can also contact your
community or state health or environmental quality
department if you have any more questions or concerns.
For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-62
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO · 888-232-6348 (TTY)