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Cadusafos – toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Thursday, December 07, 2017 by

Cadusafos is an organophosphate insecticide and nematocide (pesticide to kill nematode worms). Though shown to be effective at controlling nematodes and soil-born insects, cadusafos has been banned from use in numerous countries. This is because cadusafos was found to be highly toxic to humans and non-target animals, and has a tendency to bioaccumulate.

List of known side effects

According to, cadusafos can be highly dangerous due to it being an organophosphorus compound. Firstly, this means that cadusafos is a cholinesterase inhibitor or chemical that inhibits the degradation of acetylcholine, an enzyme that plays a role in proper nervous system function. If the body is unable to break down or remove acetylcholine, this can cause the muscles to move uncontrollably.

In addition to cholinesterase inhibition, poisoning by organophosphorus compounds such as cadusafos can cause a wide array of symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Incoordination
  • Muscle twitching
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

These symptoms tend to manifest when cadusafos has been ingested. Should cadusafos be inhaled, then the symptoms may be:

  • Chest tightness
  • Fluid in lungs
  • Productive cough
  • Respiratory depression
  • Wheezing

Should severe poisoning occur, then the affected person can experience incontinence, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

Dermal contact with cadusafos is particularly harmful, as the skin can absorb this material. Once absorbed, systemic effects may follow. The risk of systemic injury increases if the skin has cuts or bruises since cadusafos can pass into the bloodstream through these openings. In addition, cadusafos has been observed interacting with fats or oils and de-greasing the skin, leading to non-allergenic contact dermatitis.

Cadusafos is a combustible material that can produce irritating, corrosive, or toxic gases on ignition; however, cadusafos doesn’t readily nor easily ignite.

Far from just negatively impacting human beings, cadusafos can be highly toxic to birds and earthworms, and moderately toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates and honeybees.

Body systems affected by cadusafos

Depending on the route of exposure, cadusafos can affect the eyes, skin, respiratory and digestive systems. As an organophosphorus compound, cadusafos can affect the central nervous system as well.

Items that can contain cadusafos

Cadusafos has been marketed under such trade names as Ruby SC and Apache, and was usually supplied as a spray or capsule suspension to be mixed in with water.

Moreover, cadusafos has been used on crops like:

  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits
  • Field corn
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes

How to avoid cadusafos

In order to decrease the risk of cadusafos exposure, those who continue to work with this material should adhere to the following safety measures:

  • For personal protection: Make it a point to wear glasses with a full-face shield, respirators, chemical-resistant gloves and long-sleeved shirts and pants. Ensure that these materials are thoroughly washed every day before use.
  • For storage: If the original container is unavailable, opt for lined metal pails or drums, plastic pails or polyliner drums. Regardless of the container type, make sure that it can be tightly sealed. Cadusafos is best kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space away from foodstuff containers and incompatible materials like chlorine bleaches, nitrates and oxidizing acids.
  • For handling: Personal contact should be minimized. If clothes become contaminated with cadusafos, launder them prior to re-using them. Washing areas equipped with eye wash fountains, emergency showers, soap and water should be supplied in the immediate work area.
  • For spillage: Avoid touching spilled cadusafos. Contain it with absorbable materials such as earth, sand or vermiculite. Decontaminate residue by washing the area, then follow up cleaning operations by laundering all protective clothing and equipment before storing and re-using them. If cadusafos enters drains or waterways, immediately notify emergency services.

Where to learn more


Cadusafos is a largely obsolete insecticide that can result in health complications when inhaled or swallowed, or if direct contact happens. Apart from irritating or damaging the eyes, skin, digestive and respiratory systems, cadusafos can cause problems for the nervous system too since it is an anti-cholinesterase agent.

Sources include: [PDF] [PDF]


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