ToxFAQs™ for Disulfoton
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What is disulfoton?
Disulfoton is a man-made chemical that is not found in nature. Disulfoton is a pesticide (kills insects), that is no longer produced or used in the United States because of concerns about potential harmful health effects. In the past, disulfoton was used on a wide variety of commercial crops, and small amounts were used on home gardens and for mosquito control.
What happens to disulfoton in the environment?
- Current environmental levels of disulfoton are expected to be very low since it is no longer used as a pesticide. Disulfoton was previously found in air, sometimes at locations far from its original source.
- Disulfoton is absorbed into the soil and can take days to months to break down, so small amounts of disulfoton may be found in soil and sediment near hazardous waste sites.
- Disulfoton in soil can move into groundwater where it can take days to weeks to break down.
- Disulfoton can be absorbed by plants; because it is no longer used, it should not be found in crops.
How can I be exposed to disulfoton?
Disulfoton is a cancelled pesticide that is no longer produced, sold, or used in the United States.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cancelled production of pesticides containing disulfoton in 2009, but the leftover stock was allowed to be sold until 2011, and reported use of pesticides containing disulfoton continued through 2016. Currently, most people (including workers) are unlikely to be exposed to disulfoton.
- Children may be exposed if playing in contaminated soil that might still contain low levels of disulfoton from when it was used as a pesticide.
- People living near hazardous waste sites containing disulfoton may be at a low risk of exposure to disulfoton from the soil.
How can disulfoton affect my health?
Wheezing (hard to breathe) and nose and skin irritation have been reported in workers shortly after they used disulfoton.
If a person breathes in, swallows, or touches disulfoton, they can experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, and even death. It can be very irritating if it is left on the skin or gets in the eyes. These effects are not likely to happen at the levels of disulfoton that are currently found in the environment.
There is no information about whether disulfoton affects the development of babies or children, or if it gets into breast milk. One way to learn about whether disulfoton will harm people is to do studies on laboratory animals. A few studies in animals have shown that disulfoton causes developmental effects (problems with growth) in the offspring of pregnant animals given disulfoton, suggesting that disulfoton may affect human development. However, doses used in animal studies were generally much higher than levels currently found in the environment.
Can disulfoton cause cancer?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has not evaluated the carcinogenicity (whether it causes cancer) of disulfoton.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified disulfoton as noncarcinogenic (not cancer causing) for humans.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has not evaluated the carcinogenicity of disulfoton.
Can I get a medical test to check for disulfoton?
There are tests to measure the amount of disulfoton in your blood and urine. These would need to be taken within a few hours after being exposed and can only tell you if you have been recently exposed. These tests will not predict if you will have health problems. These tests are not part of standard health tests that are done at your doctor’s office; they need to be sent to a special lab. If you think you have been exposed to disulfoton, talk to your doctor, nurse, or clinic, or call poison control.
How can I protect my family from disulfoton exposure?
There should be little risk of exposure to disulfoton now. Since disulfoton is no longer produced or used in the United States, it is not likely to be found in the environment at dangerous levels. Keep children from eating or playing in the dirt if you live near a hazardous waste site contaminated with disulfoton.
Want more information?
Call CDC-INFO at 1-800-232-4636, or submit your question online at
Go to ATSDR’s Toxicological Profile for disulfoton: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/TSP/ToxProfiles/ToxProfiles.aspx?id=978&tid=205
Go to ATSDR’s Toxic Substances Portal: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/TSP/index.aspx
Find & contact your ATSDR Regional Representative at https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/DRO/dro_org.html