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E X T O X N E T
Extension Toxicology Network
Pesticide Information Profiles
A Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Oregon State University, the
University of Idaho, and the University of California at Davis and the Institute for Environmental Toxicology, Michigan
State University. Major support and funding was provided by the USDA/Extension Service/National Agricultural Pesticide
Impact Assessment Program.
EXTOXNET primary files maintained and archived at Oregon State University
Revised June 1996
Trade and Other Names: Trade names include Brodan, Detmol UA, Dowco 179, Dursban, Empire, Eradex,
Lorsban, Paqeant, Piridane, Scout, and Stipend.
Regulatory Status: The EPA has established a 24-hour reentry interval for crop areas treated with emulsifiable
concentrate or wettable powder formulations of chlorpyrifos unless workers wear protective clothing. Chlorpyrifos is
toxicity class II - moderately toxic. Products containing chlorpyrifos bear the Signal Word WARNING or CAUTION,
depending on the toxicity of the formulation. It is classified as a General Use Pesticide (GUP).
Chemical Class: organophosphate
Introduction: Chlorpyrifos is a broad-spectrum organophosphate insecticide. While originally used primarily to kill
mosquitoes, it is no longer registered for this use. Chlorpyrifos is effective in controlling cutworms, corn rootworms,
cockroaches, grubs, flea beetles, flies, termites, fire ants, and lice. It is used as an insecticide on grain, cotton, field, fruit, nut
and vegetable crops, and well as on lawns and ornamental plants. It is also registered for direct use on sheep and turkeys,
for horse site treatment, dog kennels, domestic dwellings, farm buildings, storage bins, and commercial establishments.
Chlorpyrifos acts on pests primarily as a contact poison, with some action as a stomach poison. It is available as granules,
wettable powder, dustable powder and emulsifiable concentrate.
Formulation: It is available as granules, wettable powder, dustable powder, and emulsifiable concentrate.
- Acute toxicity: Chlorpyrifos is moderately toxic to humans . Poisoning from chlorpyrifos may affect the central
nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the respiratory system. It is also a skin and eye irritant . While some
organophosphates are readily absorbed through the skin, studies in humans suggest that skin absorption of chlorpyrifos is
limited . Symptoms of acute exposure to organophosphate or cholinesterase-inhibiting compounds may include the
following: numbness, tingling sensations, incoordination, headache, dizziness, tremor, nausea, abdominal cramps,
sweating, blurred vision, difficulty breathing or respiratory depression, and slow heartbeat. Very high doses may result in
unconsciousness, incontinence, and convulsions or fatality. Persons with respiratory ailments, recent exposure to
cholinesterase inhibitors, cholinesterase impairment, or liver malfunction are at increased risk from exposure to
chlorpyrifos. Some organophosphates may cause delayed symptoms beginning 1 to 4 weeks after an acute exposure
which may or may not have produced immediate symptoms . In such cases, numbness, tingling, weakness, and
cramping may appear in the lower limbs and progress to incoordination and paralysis. Improvement may occur over
months or years, and in some cases residual impairment will remain . Plasma cholinesterase levels activity have been
shown to be inhibited when chlorpyrifos particles are inhaled . The oral LD50 for chlorpyrifos in rats is 95 to 270
mg/kg [2,13]. The LD50 for chlorpyrifos is 60 mg/kg in mice, 1000 mg/kg in rabbits, 32 mg/kg in chickens, 500 to 504
mg/kg in guinea pigs, and 800 mg/kg in sheep [2,13,44]. The dermal LD50 is greater than 2000 mg/kg in rats, and 1000
to 2000 mg/kg in rabbits [2,13,45]. The 4-hour inhalation LC50 for chlorpyrifos in rats is greater than 0.2 mg/L .
- Chronic toxicity: Repeated or prolonged exposure to organophosphates may result in the same effects as acute
exposure including the delayed symptoms. Other effects reported in workers repeatedly exposed include impaired
memory and concentration, disorientation, severe depressions, irritability, confusion, headache, speech difficulties,
delayed reaction times, nightmares, sleepwalking, and drowsiness or insomnia. An influenza-like condition with
headache, nausea, weakness, loss of appetite, and malaise has also been reported . When technical chlorpyrifos was
fed to dogs for 2 years, increased liver weight occurred at 3.0 mg/kg/day. Signs of cholinesterase inhibition occurred at 1
mg/kg/day. Rats and mice given technical chlorpyrifos in the diet for 104 weeks showed no adverse effects other than
cholinesterase inhibition . Two-year feeding studies using doses of 1 and 3 mg/kg/day of chlorpyrifos in rats showed
moderate depression of cholinesterase. Cholinesterase levels recovered when the experimental feeding was discontinued
. Identical results occurred in a 2-year feeding study with dogs. No long term health effects were seen in either the
dog or rat study [2,47]. A measurable change in plasma and red blood cell cholinesterase levels was seen in workers
exposed to chlorpyrifos spray. Human volunteers who ingested 0.1 mg/kg/day of chlorpyrifos for 4 weeks showed
significant plasma cholinesterase inhibition .
- Reproductive effects: Current evidence indicates that chlorpyrifos does not adversely affect reproduction. In two
studies, no effects were seen in animals tested at dose levels up to 1.2 mg/kg/day . No effects on reproduction
occurred in a three-generation study with rats fed dietary doses as high as 1 mg/kg/day [43,47]. In another study in
which rats were fed 1.0 mg/kg/day for two generations, the only effect observed was a slight increase in the number of
deaths of newborn offspring .
- Teratogenic effects: Available evidence suggests that chorpyrifos is not teratogenic. No teratogenic effects in offspring
were found when pregnant rats were fed doses as high as 15 mg/kg/day for 10 days. When pregnant mice were given
doses of 25 mg/kg/day for 10 days, minor skeletal variations and a decrease in fetal length occurred [43,45]. No birth
defects were seen in the offspring of male and female rats fed 1.0 mg/kg/day during a three-generation reproduction and
fertility study [2,47].
- Mutagenic effects: There is no evidence that chlorpyrifos is mutagenic. No evidence of mutagenicity was found in any
of four tests performed .
- Carcinogenic effects: There is no evidence that chlorpyrifos is carcinogenic. There was no increase in the incidence of
tumors when rats were fed 10 mg/kg/day for 104 weeks, nor when mice were fed 2.25 mg/kg/day for 105 weeks .
- Organ toxicity: Chlorpyrifos primarily affects the nervous system through inhibition of cholinesterase, an enzyme
required for proper nerve functioning.
- Fate in humans and animals: Chlorpyrifos is readily absorbed into the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract if
it is ingested, through the lungs if it is inhaled, or through the skin if there is dermal exposure . In humans,
chlorpyrifos and its principal metabolites are eliminated rapidly . After a single oral dose, the half-life of chlorpyrifos in
the blood appears to be about 1 day . Chlorpyrifos is eliminated primarily through the kidneys . Following oral
intake of chlorpyrifos by rats, 90% is removed in the urine and 10% is excreted in the feces . It is detoxified quickly
in rats, dogs, and other animals . The major metabolite found in rat urine after a single oral dose is trichloropyridinol
(TCP). TCP does not inhibit cholinesterase and it is not mutagenic . Chlorpyrifos does not have a significant
bioaccumulation potential . Following intake, a portion is stored in fat tissues but it is eliminated in humans, with a
half-life of about 62 hours . When chlorpyrifos (Dursban) was fed to cows, unchanged pesticide was found in the
feces, but not in the urine or milk . However, it was detected in the milk of cows for 4 days following spray dipping
with a 0.15% emulsion. The maximum concentration in the milk was 0.304 ppm . In a rat study, chlorpyrifos did not
accumulate in any tissue except fat .
- Effects on birds: Chlorpyrifos is moderately to very highly toxic to birds . Its oral LD50 is 8.41 mg/kg in pheasants,
112 mg/kg in mallard ducks, 21.0 mg/kg in house sparrows, and 32 mg/kg in chickens [8,13,43]. The LD50 for a
granular product (15G) in bobwhite quail is 108 mg/kg [13,43]. At 125 ppm, mallards laid significantly fewer eggs .
There was no evidence of changes in weight gain, or in the number, weight, and quality of eggs produced by hens fed
dietary levels of 50 ppm of chlorpyrifos .
- Effects on aquatic organisms: Chlorpyrifos is very highly toxic to freshwater fish, aquatic invertebrates and estuarine
and marine organisms . Cholinesterase inhibition was observed in acute toxicity tests of fish exposed to very low
concentrations of this insecticide. Application of concentrations as low as 0.01 pounds of active ingredient per acre may
cause fish and aquatic invertebrate deaths . Chlorpyrifos toxicity to fish may be related to water temperature. The
96-hour LC50 for chlorpyrifos is 0.009 mg/L in mature rainbow trout, 0.098 mg/L in lake trout, 0.806 mg/L in goldfish,
0.01 mg/L in bluegill, and 0.331 mg/L in fathead minnow . When fathead minnows were exposed to Dursban for a
200-day period during which they reproduced, the first generation of offspring had decreased survival and growth, as
well as a significant number of deformities. This occurred at approximately 0.002 mg/L exposure for a 30-day period .
Chlorpyrifos accumulates in the tissues of aquatic organisms. Studies involving continuous exposure of fish during the
embryonic through fry stages have shown bioconcentration values of 58 to 5100 . Due to its high acute toxicity and
its persistence in sediments, chlorpyrifos may represent a hazard to sea bottom dwellers . Smaller organisms appear
to be more sensitive than larger ones .
- Effects on other organisms: Aquatic and general agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos pose a serious hazard to wildlife and
- Breakdown in soil and groundwater: Chlorpyrifos is moderately persistent in soils. The half-life of chlorpyrifos in soil
is usually between 60 and 120 days, but can range from 2 weeks to over 1 year, depending on the soil type, climate, and
other conditions [12,19]. The soil half-life of chlorpyrifos was from 11 to 141 days in seven soils ranging in texture from
loamy sand to clay and with soil pHs from 5.4 to 7.4. Chlorpyrifos was less persistent in the soils with a higher pH .
Soil half-life was not affected by soil texture or organic matter content. In anaerobic soils, the half-life was 15 days in
loam and 58 days in clay soil . Adsorbed chlorpyrifos is subject to degradation by UV light, chemical hydrolysis and
by soil microbes. When applied to moist soils, the volatility half-life of chlorpyrifos was 45 to 163 hours, with 62 to 89%
of the applied chlorpyrifos remaining on the soil after 36 hours . In another study, 2.6 and 9.3% of the chlorpyrifos
applied to sand or silt loam soil remained after 30 days . Chlorpyrifos adsorbs strongly to soil particles and it is not
readily soluble in water [19,51]. It is therefore immobile in soils and unlikely to leach or to contaminate groundwater
. TCP, the principal metabolite of chlorpyrifos, adsorbs weakly to soil particles and appears to be moderately mobile
and persistent in soils .
- Breakdown in water: The concentration and persistence of chlorpyrifos in water will vary depending on the type of
formulation. For example, a large increase in chlorpyrifos concentrations occurs when emulsifiable concentrations and
wettable powders are released into water. As the pesticide adheres to sediments and suspended organic matter,
concentrations rapidly decline. The increase in the concentration of insecticide is not as rapid for granules and controlled
release formulations in the water, but the resulting concentration persists longer . Volatilization is probably the
primary route of loss of chlorpyrifos from water. Volatility half-lives of 3.5 and 20 days have been estimated for pond
water . The photolysis half-life of chlorpyrifos is 3 to 4 weeks during midsummer in the U.S. Its change into other
natural forms is slow . Research suggests that this insecticide is unstable in water, and the rate at which it is
hydrolyzed increases with temperature, decreasing by 2.5- to 3-fold with each 10 C drop in temperature. The rate of
hydrolysis is constant in acidic to neutral waters, but increases in alkaline waters. In water at pH 7.0 and 25 C, it had a
half-life of 35 to 78 days .
- Breakdown in vegetation: Chlorpyrifos may be toxic to some plants, such as lettuce . Residues remain on plant
surfaces for approximately 10 to 14 days. Data indicate that this insecticide and its soil metabolites can accumulate in
certain crops .
- Appearance: Technical chlorpyrifos is an amber to white crystalline solid with a mild sulfur odor .
- Chemical Name: O,O-diethyl O-3,5,6-trichloro-2-pyridyl phosphorothioate 
- CAS Number: 2921-88-2
- Molecular Weight: 350.62
- Water Solubility: 2 mg/L @ 25 C 
- Solubility in Other Solvents: benzene s.; acetone s.; chloroform s.; carbon disulfide s.; diethyl ether s.; xylene s.;
methylene chloride s.; methanol s. 
- Melting Point: 41.5-44 C 
- Vapor Pressure: 2.5 mPa @ 25 C 
- Partition Coefficient: 4.6990 
- Adsorption Coefficient: 6070 
- ADI: 0.01 mg/kg/day 
- MCL: Not Available
- RfD: 0.003 mg/kg/day 
- PEL: 0.2 mg/m3 (8-hour) (skin)
- HA: 0.02 mg/L (lifetime) 
- TLV: Not Available
9330 Zionsville Rd.
Indianapolis, IN 46268-1054
- Phone: 317-337-7344
- Emergency: 800-258-3033
References for the information in this PIP can be found in Reference List Number 5
DISCLAIMER: The information in this profile does not in any way replace or supersede the information on the pesticide
product labeling or other regulatory requirements. Please refer to the pesticide product labeling.