Endosulfan Toxicity

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Endosulfan is an insecticide that's both controversial and dangerous - so harmful, in fact, that in April 2011, it was banned from being manufactured and used worldwide. It's currently being phased out, and the majority of endosulfan will be gone by mid 2012. By 2017, there will be no more legal use or manufacture of endosulfan anywhere in the world.

Endosulfan had already been banned in many countries by the time it was officially banned under the Stockholm Convention - the US, EU, Brazil and Canada, among others, had decided not to use or manufacture the insecticide any more. China and India still use the chemical. It is often found in high levels in soil and water supplies.

Endosulfan was banned because it is extremely toxic. Exposure can overstimulate the nervous system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and lack of consciousness. In fields near where endosulfans have been sprayed, animals have been reported to go blind and lose muscle coordination, sometimes losing the ability to stand.

It can also cause cellular changes and reproductive issues. It's a known endocrine disruptor, which means it can affect human hormones. Studies in Kerala, India, where endosulfan use is common, show that it can delay puberty in boys, and cause gender-related birth defects. It has an anti-androgenic effect, meaning it suppresses male hormones such as testosterone.

A 2007 study conducted in the US shows that women who live near endosulfan spraying areas during their first eight weeks of pregnancy are several times more likely to give birth to a child with autism.

It's also thought that endosulfan exposure can promote the proliferation of breast cancer cells.


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