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  • Introduction

  • Historical Developments

  • Economics and Public Health

    • Use of Pesticides

    • Exposure

    • Human Poisoning

    • Regulatory Mandate

  • Insecticides

    • Organophosphorus Compounds

      • Biotransformation

      • Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity and Mechanism of Action

      • Treatment of Poisoning

      • Biochemical Measurements

      • The Intermediate Syndrome

      • Organophosphate-Induced Delayed Polyneuropathy

      • Genetic Susceptibility

      • Long-Term Toxicity

      • Developmental Toxicity and Neurotoxicity

    • Carbamates

    • Pyrethroids

      • Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity and Mechanism of Action

    • Organochlorine Compounds

      • DDT and Its Analogs

      • Hexachlorocyclohexanes and Cyclodienes

      • Mirex and Chlordecone

      • Environmental Ubiquity and Persistence

      • Endocrine Disruption

      • DDT and Public Health: Risk–Benefit Considerations

    • Other Old and New Insecticides

      • Rotenoids

      • Nicotine

      • Neonicotinoids

      • Formamidines

      • Avermectins

      • Phenylpyrazoles

      • Diamides

      • Bacillus Thuringiensis

  • Insect Repellents

    • DEET

    • Picaridin

  • Herbicides

    • Chlorophenoxy Compounds

    • Bipyridyl Compounds

    • Chloroacetanilides

    • Triazines

    • Phosphonomethyl Amino Acids

      • Glyphosate

      • Glufosinate

  • Fungicides

    • Captan and Folpet

    • Dithiocarbamates

    • Chlorothalonil

    • Benzimidazoles

    • Inorganic and Organometal Fungicides

  • Rodenticides

    • Fluoroacetic Acid and Its Derivatives

    • Thioureas

    • Anticoagulants

    • Other Compounds

      • Norbormide

      • Zinc Phosphide

      • Other

  • Fumigants

    • Methyl Bromide

    • 1,3-Dichloropropene

    • Metam-Sodium

    • Sulfur Compounds




Pesticides can be defined as any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating pests. Pests can be insects, rodents, weeds, and a host of other unwanted organisms (Ecobichon, 2001a). Thus, pesticides occupy a rather unique position among the many chemicals that we encounter daily, in that they are deliberately added to the environment for the purpose of killing or injuring some form of life. Ideally, their injurious action would be highly specific for undesirable targets; in fact, however, most pesticides are not highly selective, but are generally toxic to many nontarget species, including humans. Thus, the use of pesticides must minimize the possibility of exposure of nontarget organisms to injurious quantities of these chemicals (Murphy, 1986).


It is not uncommon for people to refer to pesticides as a single unitary class of chemicals, while in fact the term pesticide should be equated to that of pharmaceutical drugs. As there are dozens of drugs with different therapeutic indications and different mechanisms of action, several different classes of pesticides exist, with different uses, mechanisms, and, hence, toxic effects in nontarget organisms. The most common classification of pesticides relies on the target species they act on. The four major classes (and their target pests) are those of insecticides (insects), herbicides (weeds), fungicides (fungi, molds), and rodenticides (rodents), but there are also acaricides (mites), molluscides (snails, other mollusks), miticides (mites), larvicides (larvae), and pediculicides (lice). In addition, for regulatory purposes, plant growth regulators, repellants, and attractants (pheromones) often also fall in this broad classification of chemicals. Furthermore, within each class, several subclasses exist, with substantially different chemical and toxicological characteristics. For example, among insecticides, one can find organophosphorus compounds, carbamates, organochlorines, pyrethroids, and many other chemicals. Even within each of these subclasses, significant differences can exist, as is the case, for example, of organochlorine compounds such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), aldrin, or chlordecone. Thus, detailed knowledge of the toxicological characteristics of each chemical is needed to properly evaluate its potential risks for nontarget species.


The literature pertaining to the ...

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