APPENDIX II-D: Permethrin, Endocrine Disruptor, Mutagenic, and Cytogenic:





Scientists, health advocates, politicians and pesticide manufacturers continue to argue about the truth surrounding health effects from pesticide exposure. However, it is hard to argue with vast and ever growing scientific evidence linking pesticide exposure to a myriad of diseases, especially among children.(1,4 10,16,17,28,29)


It might be likened to the battle with Tobacco companies on smoking and lung disease. We know that pesticides harm health, but the manufacturers (eg Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Dupont etc.) have so much invested in the sale and promotion of pesticides (not to mention their sizable investments in the world of research, considerable contributions to political campaigns and ownership of the Genetically Engineered Crop industry), they would undoubtedly do anything to 'greenwash' the public into believing otherwise.


Scientific and medical journals increasingly report the risks posed to human health by pesticides, including links between pesticides and diseases such as breast cancer(2,3,14) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma(1, 19, 21-26). Such is a taste of the depth & breadth of information discovered by the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development in preparing their report "Pesticides, Making the Right Choice for the Protection of Health and The Environment".


When speaking to the Committee, Dr. Merryl Hammond, founder of Campaign for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP) said:


Many studies published in prestigious, peer-reviewed medical and epidemiological journals and reports point to strong associations between chemical pesticides and serious health consequences, including--and I'll just read this list briefly--endocrine disruption and fertility problems, birth defects, brain tumours and brain cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, childhood leukaemia, cancer clusters in communities, gastric or stomach cancer, learning disabilities, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, canine malignant lymphoma, and various acute effects. [...]


Compelling testimony to be sure.. and she is not alone.


Dr. Kelly Martin, M.D. of CAPE (Canadian ALliance of Physicians for the Environment) also offered a presentation to the Standing Committee on the Environment. Here is an excerpt:


"The most convincing evidence that herbicides (pesticides used most commonly in agriculture) are human carcinogens come from epidemiologic studies. A number of studies have revealed elevated risks of non-Hodgkins's lymphoma with chronic exposure to herbicides, with the relative risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma being 5-6 times the normal risk(21-26). In those studies that have examined dose-response relationships, they have found statistically significant increases in the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with increasing amounts of herbicides used(21, 23, 25). These are the findings reported by the National Cancer Institute of Canada's Advisory Committee on Cancer Control(27) and are well accepted relationships between pesticides in populations with common exposures, like farmers and golf course caretakers. Childhood non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has been shown to be associated with household or garden insecticide use(28) as well as home extermination using pesticides(10) and parental occupational exposure to pesticides(29)." In all, the Committee heard testimony from 85 witnesses and analyzed over 50 briefs and developed a frightening overview on the effects of pesticides and their pervasiveness in our environment.


We recommend that parents take a quick look at out Toxic Top Ten List for an overview of 'how and what' pesticides children are exposed to . It offers a synopsis of the health risks associated with these pesticides. When you're done, come back to this page for more comprehensive information. Here's our TOXIC TOP TEN LIST.


The following is a just brief overview of the different classes of these pesticides and their toxic effects on humans and wildlife


Organochlorines were widely used between 1945 to 1965 in all aspects of agriculture and forestry, in protecting wooden buildings and protecting humans from a wide variety of insect pests (1). The problem with this class of pesticide is its "persistence" in the environment. Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP's) resist degradation in normal environmental conditions. They are semi-volatile, which means at warm temperatures these substances will enter the atmosphere; at cold temperatures they'll come down to the ground. They are also fat soluble, which means they tend to build up over a lifetime in the fatty tissues of organisms that consume them . So, that means you can get quite extraordinary concentrations at high levels in the food chain.(!) This class of pesticides spawned such products as DDT, Lindane, Methoxychlor and Pentachlorophenol, the latter 3 are still registered pesticides in Canada, DDT is still used in 3rd world countries especially for use in deterring malaria. This class is noted for disrupting reproductive and developmental processes, as well as wreaking havoc with endocrine, immune and nervous systems. There is also emerging evidence linking exposure to this pesticide class with breast and other cancers. (2,3)


Organophosphates are the next class of pesticides, first used in the early1940's. They are characterized by their systemic properties, ie they are taken up by the plant's tissue and the plant, then, kills the bacteria, fungi or parasites. Organophosphates include Schradan; Parathion & Malathion (insecticides).. Though they are not classified as POP's, they are highly toxic to humans and others species. Some organophosphates like Chlopyrifos (recently banned in the U.S. and the active ingredient in some Raid sprays, Hartz flea collars, and Black Flag liquid roach and ant killer) are still in use in Canada, today. Exposure to this class is noted for increased risk of childhood Leukemia, Parkinson's, effects on the developing brain and nervous systems of the unborn and young children, neurotoxicity in adults among other conditions. (4, 15, 16, 17, 18)


Carbamates like Carbaryl; Methomyl; Propoxur & Aldicarb began wide use in the 1950's as insecticides and fungicides. They are classified as non-persistent but are still highly toxic to many species. They are suspected carcinogens and cause lung, kidney & liver damage, are neurotoxic and affect the immune system.(5, 6, 7, 8)


Phenoxy class pesticides include 2,4,5-T (now discontinued in Canada) & 2,4-D (one of the most widely used herbicides in Canada ie "Killex", "Weedex"). Lax Canadian pesticide legislation has not permitted large scale independent study of Phenoxy's effects on humans. Emerging studies show carcinogenic potential [soft tissue sarcomas including non Hodgkin's lymphoma- (10, 19)] and a host of other acute and chronic toxic characteristics. A study of 2,4-D products in Canada revealed that many solutions contained Dioxin, a known carcinogen(11).


Pyrethroids such as fenpropanthrin; deltamethrin; cypermethrin and permethrin are insecticides (Raid, Black Flag etc). Like Phenoxy class pesticides, these have not undergone extensive study to reveal their overall toxicity to humans and other species. Emerging studies reveal that this class is noted for its neurotoxicity in species including humans, it potential as an endocrine dispruptor and its mutagenic, & cytogenic potential.(12, 13, 14)



The federal Pest Control Products Act, which governs pesticides and their use in Canada, has not undergone any major amendment since 1969. The activities of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the branch within Health Canada that administers the Act, have not been publicly scrutinized since the Agency's inception in 1995. Of the more than 7000 pesticides ingredients registered in Canada, the vast majority were registered before 1995 and have, therefore, never been studied using today's stringent health safety standards. They have therefore not been reassessed to account for children's high vulnerability to the smallest pesicide exposure, no less repeated exposures over time.


Current legislation does not require that pesticide solutions be tested, only their "active ingredients" are subject to scrutiny. Studies have found that many of the 'inert' components are often more toxic than the active ingredient. This says little, therefore, of the overall toxicity of a solution.(20)


It must also be noted that little has been done to assess the cumulative effects of multiple pesticide exposure over time. On any given day, humans ingest a wide variety of pesticide residues, from insecticides and fungicides residing on the skins and systemically in fruits to a range of herbicides on grains and vegetables. Meats, poultry , fish and dairy products also contain these substances, (sometimes in greater concentrations) which are often stored in fatty deposits.


Little is known about the effects of years of cumulative exposure of such a range of toxins on the human body... especially those of young children.


Finally, there is evidence demonstrating a potentially dangerous link between many of the newer classes of pesticide and naturally occurring substances in our daily diet. As reported in a British study (5), Carbaryl (a carbamate) can combine with nitrites from food additives in the stomach and create a carcinogenic and highly mutagenic substance. This serves to illustrate that pesticide toxicity does not begin and end with the study of exposure of a single active ingredient on a laboratory rat in a controlled environment. Humans and all other species live in a world that is continually choked by billions of tons of pollutants in the air, on the land and in the water. We eat, breath, drink and sleep in a smothering haze of toxins. It is time that we cleaned up our act. Please visit our BAN PESTICDES section and learn what you can do right now. 





(1) "Pesticides, Making the Right Choice for the Protection of Health and The Environment.", House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, May 16, 2000, chair- Charles Caccia, MP Davenport.

. (2)"Organochlorine compounds and estrogen-related cancers in women" by Hans-Olov Adami et al., Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden (Cancer Causes and Control 6:551-566 1995)

. (3) "Organochlorine compounds in relation to breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and endometriosis: an assessment of the biological and epidemiological evidence" by Ulf Ahlborg et al., Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden (Crit Rev Toxicol 25:463-531 1995)

(4)"Epidemiological characteristics of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia" - Buckley J.D. et al 1994 - Leukemia 8 (5):856-864

(5)Elespuru, R., Lijinski, W., and Setlow, J.K. 1974. Nature (London). 247:386-387.

(6)Regan, J.D., Setlow, R.B., Francis, A.A., and Lijinsky, W. 1976. Mutat. Res. 38:293

(7)Siebert, D. and Eisenbrand, G. 1974. Mutat. Res. 22:121

(8)National Library of Medicine. Hazardous Substances Databank. Carbaryl. February 4, 1992

(9)U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Drinking Water. Carbaryl Health Advisory. Draft Report. August 1987.

(10)"Home Pesticide Use and Childhood Cancer" - Leiss, Savitz 1995 American Journal of Public Health 85:249-252

(11)Cochrane, W. P., J. Singh, W. Miles, and B. Wakeford. 1981. Determination of chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin contaminants in 2,4-D products by gaschromatography-mass spectrometric techniques. J. Chromatogr. 217:289-299.

(12)Barrueco C, Herrera A, Caballo C, de la Pena E. Cytogenic effects of permethrin in cultured human lymphocytes. Mutagenesis. 1992;7;433-437.

(13)Hoellinger H, Lecorsier A, SoMier M, Leger C, Do-Cao-Thang, and Nguyen-Hoang-Nam. Cytotoxicity, cytogenotoxicity, and allergenicity tests on certain pyrethroids. Drug Chem Toxicol. 1987;10:291-310.

(14)Vera Go et al., “Estrogenic Potential of Certain Pyrethroid Compounds in the MCF-7 Human Breast Carcinoma Cell Line.” Environmental Health Perspectives 107 (3), March 1999, pp. 173-177.

(15)Mohit H. Bhatt et al., “Acute and Reversible Parkinsonism Due to Organophosphate Pesticide Intoxication: Five Cases.” Neurology 52(7), April 22, 1999, pp. 1467-1471.

(16)"Overexposed: Organophosphate Insecticides in Children's Food" Environmental Working Group report, January 29, 1998- Richard Wiles et al

(17)Spyker JM, Avery DL. Neurobehavioral effects of prenatal exposure to the organophosphate diazinon in mice. J Toxicol and Environ Health 1977:9891002.

(18)Epidemiological study of the relationships between exposure to organophosphate pesticides and indices of chronic peripheral neuropathy, and neuropsychological abnormalities in sheep farmers and dippers, Institute of Occupational Medicine, May 1999. Copies of the report available from Fintan Hurley, Director of Research Quality, +44 (0)131 667 5131.

(19). Hardell, L., M. Eriksson, P. Lenner, and E. Lundgren. 1981. Malignant lymphomaand exposure to chemicals, especially organic solvents, chlorophenols and phenoxy acids: a case-control study. Br. J. Cancer. 43:169-176.

(20)Toxic Secrets: Inert Ingredients in Pesticides, 1987-1997, co-published by Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides and Californians for Pesticide Reform.

(21) Hoar SK, Blair Aeal. Agricultural herbicide use and risk of lymphoma and soft-tissue sarcoma. Journal of the American Medical Association 1986; 256:1141-1147.

(22) Hoar ZS, Blair A, Holmes FF, Boysen CD, Robel RJ. A case referent study of soft-tissue sarcoma and Hodgkin's disease: farming and insecticide use. Scand J Work Environ Health 1988; 14:224-230.

(23) Hoar ZS, Weisenburger DD, Babbitt PA, Saal RC, Vaught JB, Cantor KPea. A case-control study of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and the herbicide 2,4 - dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) in eastern Nebraska. Epidemiology 1990; 1:349-356.

(24) Persson B, Dahlander AM, Fredriksson M, Brage HN, Ohlson CG, Aselson O. Malignant lymphomas and occupational exposure. Br J Ind Med 1989; 46:515-520.

(25) Wigle DT, Semenciw RM, et al.. Mortality study of Canadian male farm operators: non-Hodgkins's lymphoma and mortality and agricultural practices in Saskatchewan. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1990; 82:575-582.

(26) Woods JS, Polissar L, Severson RK, Heuser LS, Kulander BG. Soft tissue sarcoma and non-hodgkin's lymphoma in relation to phenoxyherbicide and chlorinated phenol exposure in western Washington. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1987; 78:899-910.

(27) Ritter L, For the Ad Hoc Panel on Pesticides and Cancer. Report of a Panel on the Relationship between Public Exposure to Pesticides and Cancer. Cancer 1997; 80:2019-2033.

(28) Anonymous editor. Childhood non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 1991;

(29) Kristensen P, Andersen A, Irgens LMea. Cancer in offspring of parents engaged in agricultural activities in Norway: Incidence and risk factors in the farm environment. Int J Cancer 1996; 65:39-50. 


This appendix is copied from: