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Parathion — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Friday, November 17, 2017 by

Parathion goes by its trade names such as Alkron, Alleron, Aphamite, Corothion, Ethyl parathion, Etilon, Fosferno 50, Niran, Orthophos, Panthion, Paramar, Paraphos, Parathene, Parawet, Phoskil, Rhodiatox, Soprathion, Stathion, Thiopos, AC 3422, E-605, and ENT 15108. Thiopos is a name that was used in the former Soviet Union.

Parathion is classified as a restricted use pesticide (RUP) by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and as such, all products that contain parathion must bear the “Danger” sign. It is an organophosphate insecticide that acts as a cholinesterase inhibitor; therefore, it disrupts neural activity.

Pure parathion is a liquid of pale yellow color with a faint odor of garlic at temperatures above six degrees Celsius. It hydrolyzes slowly at pH seven or below, but is usually stable at normal temperatures. Parathion decomposes and can cause containers to explode at temperatures above 120 degrees Celsius, releasing toxic gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, diethylsulfide, nitrogen oxide, phosphorus pentoxide, and sulfur dioxide. The lowest dosage of parathion with toxic effects in humans is less than 0.1 ounce.

List of known side effects

The EPA in January 1992 banned the use of parathion on fruit, nut, and vegetable crops because it manifests toxic effects on agricultural workers and birds. The crops that can be used parathion on include alfalfa, barley, corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, and wheat.

It is highly possible to develop thick and roughened skin after exposure to parathion. It can also cause localized sweating and muscle contractions. In extreme cases, parathion poisoning can cause convulsions, involuntary defecation or urination, irregular heartbeats, psychosis, unconsciousness, and coma. Furthermore, a person can die due to parathion exposure, due to respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.

Repeated exposure to parathion can induce an influenza-like condition with loss of appetite and malaise.

Parathion is also moderately toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates such as crayfish, snails, and worms. It is also said to be toxic to bees and mule deer.

Body systems affected by parathion

Parathion is bad for the ocular system. Getting some on your eyelids can cause constriction of the pupil, making it hard to identify the path of moving objects. Parathion exposure can also lead to cataract formation, and painful and bleeding eyes.

Parathion is bad for the central nervous system. It interferes with the activity of neurotransmitters, which are essential for the proper functioning of the brain. As such, the sufferer may experience delayed reaction times, drowsiness, fatigue, impaired memory or concentration, incoordination, insomnia, involuntary muscle contractions, irritability, loss of reflexes, nightmares, sleepwalking, severe depression, sleepwalking, slurred speech, tremors of the tongue and eyelids, twitching, weakness, and eventually, paralysis of the body extremities and the respiratory muscles.

Parathion is bad for the respiratory system. Initial exposure effects include bloody or runny nose, chest discomfort, coughing, difficulty in breathing and wheezing due to constriction or excess fluid in the bronchial tubes.

After that, a parathion exposure sufferer may experience dizziness, headache, salivation, and confusion. These effects can be felt within a few minutes or up to 12 hours from the time of exposure.

Parathion is bad for the digestive system. It can cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, among others.

Items that can contain parathion

Parathion is a kind of highly toxic pesticide.

How to avoid parathion

The EPA decreed can apply parathion to crops only via certified aerial applicators and that treated croops can never be harvested by hand. The federal agency plans on canceling all parathion use nationwide.

Where to learn more


Parathion is bad for the respiratory, digestive, ocular, and central nervous systems.

Parathion is a kind of highly toxic pesticide.

EPA plans on canceling all parathion use nationwide.

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