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Methyl Parathion. “Cotton Poison”. By: Ruedas, Laurence N. Teñido, Christene Q. Methyl Parathion.

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methyl parathion

Methyl Parathion

“Cotton Poison”

By: Ruedas, Laurence N.

Teñido, Christene Q

methyl parathion1
Methyl Parathion
  • Methyl parathion or "cotton poison" is a chemical pesticide that should be used only in open fields to control insects. Most commonly, it is used on cotton, soybean and vegetable fields.
  • It is a brownish liquid that turns milky white when mixed with water. It can leave a yellow stain on areas where it has been sprayed and smells like rotten eggs.
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors
exposure to methyl parathion
Exposure to Methyl Parathion
  • Contact with methyl parathion usually occurs by touching surfaces that were sprayed with the chemical. This would include areas such as baseboards, kitchen counters, under the sink and any area with yellow stains.
  • A person also can be exposed to methyl parathion by breathing contaminated air—especially right after the chemical is sprayed—or by eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
acute toxicity
Acute toxicity
  • It is highly toxic by inhalation and ingestion, and moderately toxic by dermal adsorption (it is also readily adsorbed through the skin).
  • When inhaled, the first adverse effects are a bloody or runny nose, coughing, chest discomfort and difficulty breathing.
  • Skin contact may cause localized sweating and involuntary muscle contractions.

Following exposure by any route, other systemic effects may begin within a few minutes, or be delayed for up to 12 hours. These may include pallor, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, dizziness, eye pain, blurred vision, constriction or dilation of the pupils, tears, salivation, sweating and confusion.

  • In severe cases, poisoning will affect the central nervous system, producing in-coordination, slurred speech, loss of reflexes, weakness, fatigue, and eventual paralysis of the body extremities and respiratory muscles. Death may be caused by respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.
effect in the environment
Effect in the Environment

Methyl parathion has a half-life in aqueous solution of 175 days, and 10 days to two months in soils. The rate of degradation increases with temperature and with exposure to sunlight.

problems in the us
Problems in the US
  • Mississippi caseOn 13 March 1997, Dock Eatman, Sr of Moss Point Mississippi was convicted by a jury of illegal spraying of the insecticide methyl parathion in homes and other buildings in the Pascagoula (Miss.) area in 1995 and 1996. Eatman did not have a licence for commercial pesticide application. This insecticide is only approved for outdoor agricultural use. Eatman faces a maximum of 21 years in prison and/or up to US $2.1 million in fines. This case is being investigated by the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI and authorities from the state of Mississippi.
  • Ohio caseLutellis Kilgore of Elyria Ohio, was also charged on 21 March 1997 with illegal use of methyl parathion. He allegedly applied the insecticide in a manner inconsistent with its label to more than 60 properties without an application certificate. The spraying led to a US $20 million publicly-funded clean up of the affected properties. Kilgore faces a maximum of one year in prison and/or a fine of up to US $100,000 for the illegal application and five years in prison and/or a fine of up to US $250,000 for making false statements to federal investigators.
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2001. Toxicological profile for Methyl Parathion. Update. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.