Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Life after Lindane in California: Water Concentrations, Poison Control Calls Drop Following Ban

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Life after Lindane in California: Water Concentrations, Poison Control Calls Drop Following Ban

Article excerpt

Lindane, a persistent, highly toxic, and bioaccumulative organochlorine insecticide, was used in agriculture and as a topical treatment for human head lice and scabies beginning in the 1940s. As its toxicity became better known, manufacture and use declined in the United States; in 2002, California banned the pharmaceutical use of lindane altogether. According to a new study, that ban appears to have resulted in steep drops in concentrations of lindane in Southern California's wastewater and a dramatic reduction in calls to the California Poison Control System [EHP 116:297-302; Humphreys et al.].

The most common adverse effects of lindane exposure in humans include seizures, dizziness, and headaches. High levels of exposure can be fatal. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has canceled all registrations for lindane-containing compounds in agriculture, the chemical is still available by prescription as a second-line treatment for head lice in states other than California. Its continued pharmaceutical use raises concerns about its potential presence in wastewater effluent and drinking water.

The research team, part of the University of California, San Francisco, Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, examined historical lindane concentrations in several Southern California water pollution control plants and compared them before and after the ban. To assess the ban's impact on human exposures, they analyzed lindane-telated calls to California's poison control hotline between 1998 and 2006. …

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