Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
What is Toxaphene?
Toxaphene is an insecticide which is usually found as a solid or gas. From 1947 to 1980 toxaphene was primarily used in the southern United States on cotton crops. Widespread use of toxaphene has been banned in the United States due to its harmful effects on us. Toxaphene is a persistent, bioacculumative, and toxic (PBT) pollutant targeted by EPA.
Why Are We Concerned About Toxaphene?
Because toxaphene is bioaccumulative, it does not easily break down in our environment and becomes more concentrated as it moves up the food chain to humans and other animals. Levels may be high in some predatory fish and mammals because toxaphene accumulates in the bodies of those exposed to it. Toxaphene-like substances have been found in the Great Lakes ecosystem.
What harmful effects can Toxaphene have on us?
- Injures the kidneys and liver
- Damages the immune system
- Harms the adrenal gland
- Causes changes in the development of unborn children
- May cause cancer
- Damages the lungs
- Damages the nervous system
How are we exposed to Toxaphene?
- By eating contaminated fish and shellfish
- By eating foods exposed to toxaphene
- Infants may be exposed through breast milk
- Unborn children can be exposed through the mother's blood stream if she is exposed
Where can Toxaphene be found?
- Cattle dip for scabies control
- Pineapples in Puerto Rico
- Emergency treatment of cotton, corn, and small grains
- Bananas in the Virgin Islands
Potential Sources to our Environment:
- Long range transport through the air, falling into the lakes through rain, snow, etc.