The insecticide Permethrin in Nature: Risks

Sunday, 2/10/2016

Permethrin: A brief introduction

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●Permethrin is both an insecticide and a repellent in the pyrethroid family; pyrethroids aresynthetic chemicals which act like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. They are widely used for controlling various insects and are commonly used in mosquito control programs to kill adult mosquitoes.
●Permethrin functions as a neurotoxin, affecting neuron membranes by prolonging the sodium channel activation.
●It has been registered by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) since 1977.
●It is used to control insects in many ways. Products containing Permethrin can be used in public health mosquito control programs. They may be used on food and feed crops, on livestock, on ornamental lawns, and pets, on clothing and in structures and buildings.
●It is sold in a number of products, for example, household insect foggers and sprays, tick and flea sprays for yards, sprays for cats and dogs, flea dips and termite treatments, agricultural and livestock products, and mosquito abatement products

Does it pose a risk to humans?

●According to the EPA, Permethrin can be used for public health mosquito control without posing many risks to human health, when carefully applied according to the instructions on the label.
●Permethrin can pose slight risks of acute toxicity to humans. However, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, it has been used for many years with no reported human poisoning cases.
●No clear indication exists which proves that permethrin has an adverse and significant effect on humans when used as recommended. But it has induced skin sensations such as prickling,
tingling, and numbness in exposed workers, however, these effects disappeared, within 24 hours

Is it a risk for wildlife?

●Permethrin is toxic to fish. For that reason, EPA has specifically established some precautions on the label to reduce such risks, including restrictions that prohibit the direct application of products to open water.
●It is also highly toxic to bees, and possibly other insects, but when used correctly Permethrin provides quite strong a repellent effect and pose little risk to these insects.
●When Permethrin is applied at mosquito control rates, accordingly, as listed on the label, it is low in toxicity to mammals and is nontoxic to birds.

Signs and symptoms of an exposure to Permethrin

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●Health effects from permethrin will depend on how someone is exposed to it.
●Cats who have been exposed (by accident) to the products with high (45-65%) amounts
of permethrin, may seem anxious, moreover, they can’t walk normally. They may also have muscle tremors and there are possibilities that they may die from the exposure.
●Dogs and cats that have permethrin on their skin may act strangely. They may start twitching their skin or ears, and flicking their paws, or rolling on the ground.
●When humans get permethrin on their skin, they can have suffered irritation, tingling and even burning, or itching at that spot.
● If permethrin goes into the eyes, it can cause redness, burn, and pain.
●Moreover, if people eat permethrin, it could cause abdominal pain, nausea, sore throat and vomiting.
●People, who have breathed in permethrin, have had irritation in the lungs and noses, difficulty in breathing, nausea, headaches, puking, and dizziness.

Personal Protection

●Formulations to protect against mosquitoes should not be applied directly to the skin.
●Certain permethrin-containing products are recommended for use, on clothing, bed nets, shoes, and camping gear.
●Clothing and gear which are already treated with Permethrin can also be purchased.
●Permethrin is also used to control head lice and scabies.The formulations for the control of these two arthropods can be applied to the skin, always check the label to ensure proper use of an insecticide.
●Items treated with permethrin retain their repellency, they maintain their insecticidal effects as well even after several washes.