Health effects of chlorfenvinphos

Introduction

Chlorfenvinphos is the common name of an organophosphorus insecticide used to control insect pests on livestock. It was also used to control household pests such as flies, fleas, and mites. This chemical is synthetic and does not occur naturally in the environment. Chlorfenvinphos was sold under common trade names including Birlane®, Dermaton®, Sapercon®, Steladone®, and Supona®.

The pure chemical (100% chlorfenvinphos) is a colorless liquid with a mild odor. Commercial preparations commonly used in insecticides sold in stores were usually 90% chlorfenvinphos. Most of chlorfenvinphos was used in liquid form. The substance easily mixes with acetone, ethanol, and propylene glycol. It is slowly broken down by water and is corrosive to metal.

Pathways for chlorfenvinphos in the environment

Chlorfenvinphos is the common name of an organophosphorus insecticide used to control insect pests on livestock. It was also used to control household pests such as flies, fleas, and mites. This chemical is synthetic and does not occur naturally in the environment. Chlorfenvinphos was sold under common trade names including Birlane®, Dermaton®, Sapercon®, Steladone®, and Supona®.

The pure chemical (100% chlorfenvinphos) is a colorless liquid with a mild odor. Commercial preparations commonly used in insecticides sold in stores were usually 90% chlorfenvinphos. Most of chlorfenvinphos was used in liquid form. The substance easily mixes with acetone, ethanol, and propylene glycol. It is slowly broken down by water and is corrosive to metal.

Exposure to chlorfenvinphos

Most cases of unintentional chlorfenvinphos poisoning have resulted from short exposures to very high concentrations of this substance. Usually this occurred when people unintentionally swallowed it. Workers involved in pesticide application, or dairy farming, cattle or sheep holding, or poultry production, may have inhaled, swallowed, or contaminated their skin with a large amount of the substance if they did not properly protect themselves when using it. The most common way for people to be exposed to chlorfenvinphos is by eating imported agricultural products contaminated with it and by using pharmaceutical products that contain lanolin. Lanolin is a natural grease from sheep's wool wax that is used as a base for many medications, cosmetic skin lotions, and creams that are rubbed on the skin to keep the skin from drying. Chlorfenvinphos used to control flies in animal buildings and holding pens can contaminate sheep's wool. If you live in areas surrounding hazardous waste disposal sites or treatment facilities for chlorfenvinphos, you could be exposed to it by contact with soils, runoff water, surface water, or groundwater contaminated by spills or leaks on the site or facility. People who work in the disposal of chlorfenvinphos or its wastes are more likely to be exposed. You are most likely to be exposed to chlorfenvinphos if you live near chemical plants where it was manufactured, or near dairy or poultry farms, or cattle or sheep holding areas where it was used; or if you live near hazardous waste sites that contain it.

Pathways for chlorfenvinphos in the body

If you breathe air containing chlorfenvinphos, you may absorb it into your body through your lungs. If you eat food or drink water containing this substance, it may be absorbed from your stomach and intestines. Chlorfenvinphos may also enter your body through your skin. Once in the body, it is rapidly broken down and eliminated from the body, mostly when you urinate. It does not build up in your tissues.

Health effects of chlorfenvinphos

If you breathe air containing chlorfenvinphos, you may absorb it into your body through your lungs. If you eat food or drink water containing this substance, it may be absorbed from your stomach and intestines. Chlorfenvinphos may also enter your body through your skin. Once in the body, it is rapidly broken down and eliminated from the body, mostly when you urinate. It does not build up in your tissues.

You should know that one way to learn whether a chemical will harm people is to determine how the body absorbs, uses, and releases the chemical. For some chemicals, animal testing may be necessary. Animal testing may also help identify such health effects as cancer or birth defects. Without laboratory animals, scientists would lose a basic method for getting information needed to make wise decisions that protect public health. Scientists have the responsibility to treat research animals with care and compassion. Scientists must comply with strict animal care guidelines because laws today protect the welfare of research animals.

Additionally, there are vigorous national and international efforts to develop alternatives to animal testing. The efforts focus on both in vitro and in silico approaches and methods. For example, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) created the NTP Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM) in 1998. The role of NICEATM is to serve the needs of high quality, credible science by facilitating development and validation—and regulatory and public acceptance—of innovative, revised test methods that reduce, refine, and replace the use of animals in testing while strengthening protection of human health, animal health and welfare, and the environment. In Europe, similar efforts at developing alternatives to animal based testing are taking place under the aegis of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM).

Medical tests for exposure to chlorfenvinphos

Most of the signs and symptoms resulting from chlorfenvinphos poisoning are due to the inhibition of an enzyme called "acetylcholinesterase" in the nervous system. This enzyme is also found in your red blood cells and a similar enzyme (pseudocholinesterase) is found in blood plasma. The most common test for exposure to many pesticides (including chlorfenvinphos) that contain the element phosphorus is to determine the level of cholinesterase activity in the red blood cells or plasma. This test requires only a small amount of blood and can be done in your doctor's office. It takes weeks for this enzyme to completely recover to normal levels following exposure; therefore, a valid test may be conducted a number of days following the suspected exposure. This test indicates only exposure to a chemical substance of this type. It does not specifically show exposure to chlorfenvinphos. Other chemicals or disease conditions may also alter the activity of this enzyme. There is a wide range of normal cholinesterase activity among individual people in the general population. If your normal or baseline value has not been established through a previous test, you might have to repeat the test several times to determine if your enzyme activity is recovering.

Specific tests are available to identify chlorfenvinphos or its break-down products in your blood, body tissue, and urine. These tests are not usually available through your doctor's office and require special equipment and sample handling. If you need the specific test, your doctor can collect the sample and send it to a special laboratory for analysis. Chlorfenvinphos is rapidly broken down to other chemicals and removed from the body (in urine), so this test must be done in the first few days after exposure to make sure that you have really breathed, swallowed, or got chlorfenvinphos on your skin.

Further Reading

Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.

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Citation

(2008). Health effects of chlorfenvinphos. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/51cbedf97896bb431f69533d

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