Public Health Statement for Diazinon
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This Public Health Statement is the summary chapter from the Toxicological Profile for Diazinon. It is one in a series of Public Health Statements about hazardous substances and their health effects. A shorter version, the ToxFAQs™, is also available. This information is important because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present. For more information, call the ATSDR Information Center at 1 800-232-4636.
This public health statement tells you about diazinon and the effects of exposure to it.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies the most serious hazardous waste sites in the nation. These sites are then placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) and are targeted for long-term federal clean-up activities. Diazinon has been found in at least 25 of the 1,699 current or former NPL sites. Although the total number of NPL sites evaluated for this substance is not known, the possibility exists that the number of sites at which diazinon is found may increase in the future as more sites are evaluated. This information is important because these sites may be sources of exposure and exposure to this substance may be harmful.
When a substance is released either from a large area, such as an industrial plant, or from a container, such as a drum or bottle, it enters the environment. Such a release does not always lead to exposure. You can be exposed to a substance only when you come in contact with it. You may be exposed by breathing, eating, or drinking the substance, or by skin contact.
If you are exposed to diazinon, many factors will determine whether you will be harmed. These factors include the dose (how much), the duration (how long), and how you come in contact with it. You must also consider any other chemicals you are exposed to and your age, sex, diet, family traits, lifestyle, and state of health.
What is diazinon?
Diazinon does not occur naturally in the environment.
The pure chemical is an oil that is colorless and practically odorless.
Commercial diazinon is a pale to dark brown liquid.
- Pesticide uses
Diazinon is the common name of an organophosphorus
insecticide used to control pest insects in soil, on ornamental plants,
and on fruit and vegetable field crops.
Diazinon is sold under common
trade names including Alfatox, Basudin, AG 500, Dazzel, Gardentox, and
What happens to diazinon when it enters the environment?
Diazinon may enter the environment from agricultural
and household application of the chemical to control insects.
diazinon has been applied, it may be present in the soil, surface waters
(such as rivers and ponds), and on the surface of plants.
How diazinon breaks down
Diazinon is rapidly broken down to a number of different compounds.
- Water and soil
Diazinon is quickly broken down in a few hours to 2 weeks.
- Plants and animals
Diazinon is rapidly broken down by most animals that eat it and is not likely to build up to high or dangerous levels in animals or plants that you might eat.
How might I be exposed to diazinon?
Food-primary source of exposure
Small amounts of diazinon have been detected in foods sold to consumers, but studies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have found that the levels in food are far below the level that might cause any harmful health effects.
You may be exposed to diazinon in air in agricultural
areas where diazinon is extensively used or in urban areas where it is
applied to lawns and gardens.
You may be exposed to diazinon by drinking contaminated
Recently sprayed plants
You may be exposed to diazinon by touching diazinon-treated
plant materials such as grass clippings.
People who work in the manufacture and professional
application of diazinon have the most significant exposure to this
Although diazinon was formerly used as the active
ingredient in home and garden pest control products, sale of these home
and garden products in the United States was stopped in 2004. However,
previously purchased diazinon-containing home and garden products may
still be in use and present the potential for exposure.
How can diazinon enter and leave my body?
Enter your body
If you breathe air containing diazinon, you may absorb it into your body through your lungs.
Diazinon in food or water may also rapidly enter your body through the digestive tract.
- Dermal Contact
Diazinon may enter your body across the skin.
Leave your body
Once in the body, diazinon is rapidly broken down and eliminated from the body mainly in the urine. Diazinon has not been shown to accumulate in any tissues and most of the chemical is eliminated from the body within 12 days.
How can diazinon affect my health?
This section looks at studies concerning potential health effects in animal and human studies.
- High exposure
Short exposures to high levels of diazinon can affect
the nervous system. Symptoms include:
- headache, dizziness, weakness
- feelings of anxiety
- constriction of the pupils of the eye
- not being able to see clearly
- Very high exposure
Exposures to very high levels can cause more severe
Signs or symptoms of nervous system damage may occur within
30–60 minutes. If you experience these symptoms, you should seek
medical attention immediately. Emergency rooms have drugs that stop
the harmful effects of diazinon.
- nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea
- slow pulse
- pinpoint pupils
- difficulty breathing
- passing out (coma)
Long-term exposure to low levels
There is no evidence that long-term exposure to low
levels of diazinon causes any harmful health effects in people.
Diazinon has not been shown to cause cancer in people
or animals. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has
not classified diazinon for carcinogenicity. EPA classified diazinon as
a Group E chemical (evidence of noncarcinogenicity for humans).
How can diazinon affect children?
This section discusses potential health effects in humans from exposures during the period from conception to maturity at 18 years of age.
Effects in children
It is likely that children would have the same health
effects as adults. We do not know whether children would be more
sensitive than adults to the effects of diazinon.
One study found
neurological and bone effects in young children living in a house were diazinon was misused to control a flea infestation.
There is no evidence that environmental exposure to
diazinon causes birth defects or other developmental effects in people.
In animals, levels of exposure to diazinon high enough to affect the
health of pregnant mothers caused developmental effects in their newborn
Animal studies have shown that diazinon and/or its
breakdown products can be transferred from a pregnant mother to a
developing fetus, but no human data were located regarding the transfer
of diazinon from the mother to the fetus or nursing infant.
How can families reduce the risk of exposure to diazinon?
Cautions for those who live in agricultural areas
People who live near agricultural areas where diazinon
is still used should stay away from the area that has been treated.
Diazinon can be dispersed some distance from a spray zone by air
currents and runoff water.
If you are aware that diazinon is being
sprayed in the vicinity, you may want to go indoors or leave the area
for a short time.
Agricultural workers who have come into contact with relatively large
amounts of diazinon at work may need to remove and wash contaminated
clothing before coming into contact with other family members.
Wash fruits and vegetables
To reduce the risk of exposure to diazinon residue on
fresh fruits or vegetables, wash the foods prior to eating them.
Properly use insect sprays
Occasionally, diazinon may be improperly sprayed inside
the home to kill insects. Make sure that any person who treats your home
with pesticides is properly certified. Ask what chemical or chemicals
are being used. Diazinon is a “restricted use” chemical and is no longer
registered for residential indoor or garden use.
Is there a medical test to determine whether I have been exposed to diazinon?
Most of the signs and symptoms resulting from diazinon
poisoning are due to the inhibition of an enzyme called
acetylcholinesterase in the nervous system. This enzyme is also found in
your red blood cells and a similar enzyme (plasma cholinesterase) is
found in blood plasma. The most common test for exposure to many
organophosphorus insecticides, including diazinon, is to determine the
level of cholinesterase activity in the red blood cells or plasma.
takes time for this enzyme to completely recover to normal levels
following exposure. Therefore, a valid test may be conducted a number of
days following the suspected exposure. This test indicates only exposure
to an insecticide of this type. It does not specifically show exposure
Specific tests are available to determine the presence of diazinon or its breakdown products in blood, body tissue, and urine. These tests are only useful if done within a few hours or days of exposure. This is because diazinon is rapidly broken down and excreted from the body.
What recommendations has the federal government made to protect human health?
The federal government develops regulations and recommendations to protect public health. Regulations
can be enforced by law. The EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are some federal agencies that develop regulations for toxic substances. Recommendations provide valuable guidelines to protect public health, but
cannot be enforced by law. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are two federal organizations that develop recommendations for toxic substances.
Regulations and recommendations can be expressed as “not-to-exceed” levels, that is, levels of a toxic substance in air, water, soil, or food that do not exceed a critical value that is usually based on levels that affect animals; they are then adjusted to levels that will help protect humans. Sometimes these not-to-exceed levels differ among federal organizations because they used different exposure times (an 8-hour workday or a 24-hour day), different animal studies, or other factors.
Recommendations and regulations are also updated periodically as more information becomes available. For the most current information, check with the federal agency or organization that provides it.
Some regulations and recommendations for diazinon include the following:
The EPA has determined that exposure to diazinon in drinking water at a concentration of 20 micrograms per liter (μg/L) for up to 10 days is not expected to cause any harmful effects in a child.
The EPA has determined that lifetime exposure to 1 μg/L diazinon in
drinking water is not expected to cause any harmful effects.
The EPA has also set tolerances for residues of diazinon in various raw food products of 0.1–40 parts of diazinon per million parts of food (ppm).
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2008.
Toxicological profile for Diazinon. Atlanta, GA: U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Where can I get more information?
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your community or state health or environmental quality department or:
For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences
4770 Buford Highway
Chamblee, GA 30341-3717
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Email: Contact CDC-INFO
ATSDR can also tell you the location of occupational and environmental health clinics. These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating, and treating illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances.