Malathion is an organophosphate insecticide used on agricultural foods
and feed crops. Malathion is approved for residential use on lawns, gardens, ornamental trees, shrubs, and plants. Malathion is well known for its use in public mosquito control programs. The chemical may be applied in many different delivery vehicles, including via aircraft.
Approximately 16.7 million pounds of malathion are used annually, 11.2 million pounds of which is applied to cotton through the Boll Weevil Eradication Program.
All organophosphates, including malathion, are cholinesterase inhibitors. In humans, cholinesterase inhibition can over stimulate the nervous system causing nausea
, and, at very high levels (e.g. accidents, major spills), respiratory paralysis and death
. During the summer months, many state and local governments apply malathion in their mosquito eradication efforts. In recent years, many residents (most notably Floridians) have complained of health problems as a consequence of malathion spraying.
The general population is probably not exposed to malathion regularly. However, malathion is used to treat head lice on humans, to kill fleas on pets, and to kill insects in gardens. Exposure to malathion may also occur at farms where it has been sprayed on crops. Exposure to high amounts of malathion can cause difficulty breathing
, chest tightness, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea
, blurred vision
, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and possibly death. This chemical has been found in at least 21 of the 1,585 National Priorities List sites
identified by the Environmental Protection Agency
See your doctor if you have experienced serious health problems because of malathion exposure. In addition, it may be important to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.
- Toxic & Hazardous Substances
- Balance Problems: Overview
- Delirium: Overview
- Diarrhea: Overview
- Head, Spinal Cord, Brain & Nerve Disorders: Overview
- Lung & Airway Disorders
- Nausea: Overview
- Malathion: Frequently Asked Questions