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Lindane – toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 by

Lindane is a broad-spectrum insecticide, larvicide, and acaricide. It has been used since 1949 for seed and soil treatment, and also for wood and timber protection. In addition, lindane is used against ectoparasites in veterinary and pharmaceutical products and used topically in concentrations of one percent for treatment of scabies. It is also used for the control of disease vectors including mosquitoes, lice, and fleas.
Lindane is no longer produced in the U.S. and aerial application of the chemical is prohibited. In addition, it has been banned by the EU countries for plant protection and California has banned lindane-based products used to treat lice and scabies.

List of known side effects

Lindane is used as an insecticide on a range of crops to control phytophagous and soil-inhabiting insects. It is a moderately toxic compound that is readily absorbed through the skin and is rapidly absorbed after ingestion. It is also reported to be an eye and skin irritant. Other symptoms may range from mild to severe, which include:
  • Skin rash
  • Eye redness
  • Itching or burning skin
  • Dry skin
  • Numbness or tingling of the skin
  • Hair loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Convulsions
  • Cough
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Paresthesias (burning or prickling sensation)
  • Involuntary shaking of the body
  • Seizures
People who are more prone to exposure include:
  • Production and storing facility workers
  • Transport and spraying personnel
  • Farmers
  • Exterminators

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified lindane to be a probable human carcinogen.

Body systems affected by lindane

As per the Extension Toxicology Network website, lindane is highly toxic with the signal word WARNING associated with the substance. It targets certain body parts and systems such as the eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system, blood, liver and kidneys.
Prolonged or repeated exposure to lindane may cause specific side effects such as mental and motor retardation, central nervous system excitation, clonic (intermittent) and tonic (continuous) convulsions, respiratory failure, pulmonary edema and dermatitis. In addition, exposure to lindane may cause harm to breast-fed children. In rare cases, lindane has caused seizures and death.

Items that can contain lindane

Besides controlling insect pests on fruit and vegetable crops, lindane is used topically for the treatment of head and body lice and scabies. It is available in one percent concentrations as a lotion, cream, or shampoo. Other sample applications include forestry, public health applications, tobacco and timber.

How to avoid lindane

People can get exposed to lindane during the filling of tanks, dilution and spraying without adequate personal protection equipment, such as splash goggles, protective full suit and rubber boots, chemical-resistant gloves and dust respirator or any self contained breathing apparatus to avoid chemical aspiration. More importantly, consult a specialist before handling this substance.

Avoid these products that contain lindane as an active ingredient:

  • Grammexane
  • Inexit
  • Exagama
  • Gallogama

Manufacturers and suppliers of products containing lindane include:

  • ICI Plant Protection
  • Rhone-Poulenc
  • Boehringer
  • Merck
For topical applications, close the lindane bottle tightly and dispose of it safely, keeping it well out of reach of children. Do not save leftover lotion or shampoo to use later, and do not flush this medication down the toilet.

Where to learn more


Lindane is a substance that has a wide range of uses such as insecticides and larvicides, as well as lotions and shampoo to treat lice and scabies.

Lindane is no longer produced in the U.S. and aerial application of the chemical is prohibited.

Lindane is a toxic compound that is readily absorbed through the skin and is rapidly absorbed after ingestion.

Sources include:


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