Chlorfenvinphos is an insecticide that is a colorless liquid with a mild odor. It was commonly used until 1991 when all products containing chlorfenvinphos as an active ingredient were canceled in the United States. Commercial preparations commonly sold in stores were usually 90% chlorfenvinphos. Most of the chlorfenvinphos used was in liquid form. Chlorfenvinphos was widely used to control household pests such as flies, fleas, and mice. The chemical is manufactured and does not occur naturally in the environment. It was sold under common trade names including Birlanerr, Dermatonrr, Saperconrr, Steladonerr, and Suponarr.

Structural diagram: National Institutes of Health

Fate & Transport

Chlorfenvinphos enters the environment from runoff after rainfall and leaching from hazardous waste sites. It may leach into soil and underground water. It may also be found in surface waters from rain. Chlorfenvinphos may move from soil to the air by evaporation. It does not appear to accumulate in plants, fish, or freshwater animals.

Exposure Pathways

The most common way to be exposed is by eating imported agricultural products contaminated with it. Another way to be exposed is by using pharmaceutical products that contain lanolin, a natural grease from sheep's wool (chlorfenvinphos is often used to control flies in animal buildings and can contaminate sheep's wool). If you breathe air or touch soil near a hazardous waste site containing chlorfenvinphos, you could be exposed to it. If you work in the disposal of chlorfenvinphos or its wastes you are most likely to be exposed.

Health Effects

The major effect of chlorfenvinphos is on the nervous system. Ingesting large doses may cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, difficulty in breathing, and fainting. Lower doses may cause headaches, dizziness, weakness, confusion, runny nose, and inability to see clearly. These symptoms may start within 30-60 minutes and reach their maximum effect after 6-8 hours. There is no evidence that long-term exposure to small amounts of chlorfenvinphos causes any harmful health effects in people. It is not known whether chlorfenvinphos can affect reproduction or cause birth defects in people. One animal study reported decreased fertility in rats given chlorfenvinphos in their food, and another study reported that chlorfenvinphos interfered with the development of rats when the pregnant animals were fed chlorfenvinphos.

It is not known whether chlorfenvinphos causes cancer in people. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and the EPA have not classified chlorfenvinphos for carcinogenicity.

There is a general test that can be used to determine if you have been exposed to a group of insecticides, including chlorfenvinphos. This test measures the activity of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase in the blood. This test requires only a small amount of blood and can be done in your doctor's office. It does not specifically show exposure to chlorfenvinphos. Specific tests are available to identify chlorfenvinphos or its breakdown products in your blood, body tissue, and urine. These tests aren't available at most doctors' offices, but can be done at special laboratories that have the right equipment.

Information excerpted from:

Toxicological Profile for Chlorfenvinphos 1996

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services