Endosulfan is a highly toxic chemical used as an insecticide on crops and as a wood preservative; it has the chemical formula of C9H6Cl6O3S. At room temperature, endosulfan exists as brown or cream-colored crystals or flakes. It smells a bit like turpentine. It does not burn, cannot be dissolved in water, but can be dissolved in most organic solvents like alcohol and benzene. In pure form, it melts at 106°C.

Trade names for the chemical include Afidan, Beosit, Cyclodan, Devisulfan, Endocel, Endocide, Endosol, Insectophene, Malix, Phaser, Thiodan, Thimul, Thifor, and Thionex. This insecticide has been classified as a Restricted Use Pesticide by the EPA.

If endosulfan is breathed in, ingested, or absorbed through skin contact, it acts as a poison on the central nervous system. Symptoms of endosulfan poisoning include hyperactivity, nausea, dizziness, and headache; convulsions and death can occur at high doses. Research on whether or not the chemical causes cancer has been inconclusive.

Studies of the effects of endosulfan on animals suggest that long-term, low-level exposure to the chemical can also damage the kidneys, testes, and liver and may possibly reduce the body's ability to fight infection.

Harmful exposure to this insecticide can be diagnosed through a blood or urine test. There is no antidote for the poison; medical treatment generally involves trying to reduce the severity of the symptoms.


The Merck Index