NCAP works to reduce pesticide use at the local, regional and national levels through policy change, advocacy and legislation. Below are some fact sheets for common pesticides. We can not provide legal assistance or advise on pesticide application. Check with your local bar association for legal assistance. For more information about pesticides, visit: Pesticide Action Network
2,4-D is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It is commonly used on rangeland and pasture, in the production of wheat, and on home lawns.
Aldicarb is a carbamate insecticide and acaricide (pesticide used to kill mites). Like all members of this chemical family, it inhibits the action of an enzyme that is an essential component of both insect and mammal nervous systems. Aldicarb is one of the most acutely toxic pesticides registered in the U.S. Less than one thousandth of an ounce is a lethal dose for a human.
Atrazine, a triazine herbicide, is one of the two most commonly used agricultural pesticides in the U.S. According to the National Toxicology Program, atrazine is “immunotoxic,” disrupting the function of the immune system. For example, it decreased the production of interferon, a molecule that fights viral infection. Exposure to atrazine also disrupts hormone systems. Detailed research, much of it done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), showed that testosterone, prolactin, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, estrogen, and a thyroid hormone are all affected by atrazine. We have several factsheets on Atrazine for download: Atrazine: Toxicology, Atrazine: Environmental Contamination, Atrazine and Effects on Frogs, Atrazine and Prostate Cancer
Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) is a live microorganism that kills certain insects and is used to kill unwanted insects in forests, agriculture, and urban areas.
Boric acid and borates are naturally occurring compounds containing the element boron. They are widespread and abundant in soil, water, and food. They are often recommended as least-toxic pesticides for killing insects, mites, algae, fungi, and higher plants. Examples of pests for which boric acid and borates are commonly used include fleas, termites, cockroaches, wood-boring insects, and wood decay fungi.
The aerial and ground spraying of insecticides based on Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk) to eradicate various kinds of moth caterpillars is an increasingly widespread practice throughout the world. The potential long-term hazards to people that are exposed to this bacteria and its protein by products are an important concern.
Carbaryl is a widely used insecticide in the carbamate chemical family. It is used in dozens of products; one well known brand name is Sevin. About 2 million pounds of carbaryl are used every year on 140 agricultural crops. Between 2 and 4 million pounds are used every year in yards and gardens.
The fungicide chlorothalonil (commonly sold under the trade names Daconil and Bravo) is typically used on peanuts, tomatoes, potatoes, lawns, turf, and roses. It is the second most widely used agricultural fungicide in the U.S.
Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide, is the most widely used insecticide in the U.S. It is used both in agriculture and for pest control in houses and other buildings. Americans are widely exposed to chlorpyrifos. Typical diets, particularly those of children, contain significant chlorpyrifos residues. About 10 percent of the food items tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration contained chlorpyrifos residues, and illegal residues occur on many foods.
Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is a mixture of metallic salts used as a wood preservative. As the name suggests, these salts contain arsenic, copper, and chromium. They are used to protect wood from decay by microbes, fungi, and wood-feeding insects. Typical uses include treatment of fenceposts, decking, playground equipment, and structural lumber used where it will be in contact with concrete or the ground.
The herbicide clopyralid is commonly sold under the brand names Transline, Stinger, and Confront. It is used to kill unwanted plants in lawn and turf, range, pasture, rights-of-way, sugarbeets, mint, and wheat.
Cyfluthrin is a relatively new insecticide that is classified as a synthetic pyrethroid because its chemical structure is a synthetic analog of naturally-occurring pyrethrins. Many pesticide users and regulators agree with toxicologists who report that synthetic pyrethroids are economically successful because they have “a degree of potency not previously demonstrated in any class of insecticides,” and are “generally recognized as safe to mammalian species.” However, a closer look at cyfluthrin reveals a variety of hazards associated with its use.
Cypermethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide used to kill insects on cotton and lettuce, and to kill cockroaches, fleas, and termites in houses and other buildings.
Dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate, commonly known as dacthal, DCPA, or chlorthal-dimethyl, is an herbicide active ingredient used to control crabrasses, other annual grasses, and certain broad-leaved weeds in turf, home flower gardens, nursery stock, and a number of fruit and vegetable crops.
DEET is a repellent used by almost one-third of the U.S. population every year. It is one of the few pesticides applied directly to skin and clothing.
Diazinon is an organophosphate insecticide with agricultural, commercial, and household uses. Household uses predominate, with 75 million applications in the U.S. annually totalling over 5 million pounds.
Each year in the United States, about 15 million acres of corn, 1.5 million acres of wheat, and 3 million lawns are treated with the herbicide dicamba. While its name is often not commonly recognized, this wide use, together with concerns about its toxicology and its effects on our environment, make it important to scrutinize dicamba’s hazards.
The herbicide dichlobenil is used to kill unwanted weeds in shrub beds, orchards, and berry fields. It is “among the most toxic chemicals hitherto reported” to nasal tissue. Damage to this tissue reduces smelling ability and the transport of an important amino acid to the brain.
1,3-Dichloropropene applicators and agricultural workers in treated fields are occupationally exposed to the fumigant, as are those involved in the manufacture, transport, or disposal of the chemical. Consumers of the potatoes, carrots, strawberries, pineapples, and other crops that are grown after fumigation with 1,3-dichloropropene are in effect requiring these workers to expose themselves to this toxic chemical. It is clear evidence of the need for sustainable agricultural practices.
Diuron, commonly sold under the brand names Karmex, Direx, and Diuron, is widely used for vegetation control along rights of way. Other significant uses include weed control in citrus orchards and alfalfa fields.
Fipronil is a relatively new insecticide. It is used in cockroach baits and gels, flea products for pets, ant baits and gels, termite control products, turf and golf course products, and agricultural products.
Glufosinate is currently used to kill unwanted plants in landscape areas where a complete vegetation kill is desired (for example, around the base of shrubs, in sand traps on golf courses, or around fence and sign posts) in industrial, recreational, and public areas such as airports, schools, parking lots, roadsides, and railroad rights-of- way. It is also used as a directed spray (away from crop plants) around ornamental plants and in Christmas tree plantations, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.
Glyphosate herbicides are “among the world’s most widely used herbicides.” and glyphosate is “the world’s leading agrochemical.” Although glyphosate herbicides have been popular since they were first marketed in 1974, their use in agriculture has expanded recently with the increased use of crops that have been genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate treatment. Roundup is a popular brand name for glyphosate herbicides, although many other brand names are used. Glyphosate is marketed in more than 100 countries by a variety of manufacturers, but Monsanto Company has been and continues to be the major commercial supplier worldwide.
Imazapic (Plateau, Cadre) is a relatively new herbicide classified as “reduced risk” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, this does not mean that it is harmless to people and the environment.
Imazapyr is a broadspectrum imidazolinone herbicide used to kill unwanted plants in industrial sites, coniferous forests, railroad rights-of-way, rubber plantations, oil palm plantations, and sugarcane. Commercial products use the isopropylamine salt of imazapyr. Imazapyr is manufactured by American Cyanamid Co. and sold under the trade names Arsenal, Chopper, and Assault.
Imidacloprid is a relatively new, systemic insecticide chemically related to the tobacco toxin nicotine. Like nicotine, it acts on the nervous system. Worldwide, it is considered to be one of the insecticides used in the largest volume. It has a wide diversity of uses: in agriculture, on turf, on pets, and for household pests.
Malathion, a pesticide in the organophosphate chemical family, is the most commonly used insecticide in the U.S. It is often used in federal and state insect eradication programs and in mosquito control programs.
As a selective herbicide that targets broadleaf plants, mecoprop typically is used to kill broadleaf plants grow-ing in lawns and turf. Farmers also use it to kill these weeds in cereal crops. Mecoprop is often sold in combinations of several related herbicides (including 2,4-D, dicamba, or MCPA). It is also sold in “weed and feed” products, in which several herbicides are combined with fertilizers. Many major pesticide companies market mecoprop-containing products for home lawns, and there are also products designed for lawn care professionals and turf managers. Mecoprop is sold under a wide array of brand names.
Metam sodium is the most widely used soil fumigant, and the third most widely used pesticide in U.S. agriculture. Half of its use is in potato production, and 90 percent of its use is in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California.
Naled is an insecticide in the organophosphate pesticide family used primarily for mosquito control. Dibrom is a common brand name for naled products. About one million pounds are used annually in the U.S.
Nonyl phenol and related compounds are used as surfactants (surface-active agents). Surfactants reduce the surface tension of water1 and form a bridge between two chemicals that don’t readily mix. They are used in pesticide products as “inert” ingredients (ingredients other than the named, active, pesticidal ingredient). They are used to increase the amount of a spray solution that remains on leaf surfaces, to make the spray droplets stick better to the leaf, and in general make the pesticide product more potent.
Oryzalin is an herbicide used to control weeds in turf, in orchards and vineyards, around ornamental plants, and along rights of way. At least 2 million pounds of oryzalin are used annually in the U.S.
Pentachlorophenol (penta or PCP) was first introduced for use as a wood preservative in 1936 by Dow Chemical Company and Monsanto Chemical Comany. Penta has since been used as an herbicide on ornamental lawns, golf courses, aquatic areas, and rights-of-way; for control of subterranean termites; as an anti-microbial agent in cooling towers, adhesives, latex paints, paper coatings, cements used with food can ends and seals, coatings in reusable bulk food storage containers, photographic solutions, leather tanneries, and pulp and paper mills; and, as a disinfectant. It is marketed under the trade names Santophen, Penchlorol, Chlorophen, Pentacon, Penwar, Sinituho and Penta among others.
The insecticide permethrin (in the synthetic pyrethroid family) is widely used on cotton, wheat, corn, alfalfa, and other crops. In addition, over 100 million applications are made annually in and around U.S. homes.
The herbicide picloram (commonly sold under the trade names Tordon and Grazon) is typically used to kill unwanted broad-leaved plants on rangeland and pastures, in forestry, and along rights-of-way.
Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is a synergist used to increase the potency of insecticides like pyrethrins and pyrethroids. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PBO is one of the most commonly used ingredients in household pesticide products.
Pyrethrins and pyrethrum are the most frequently used home and garden insecticides in the U.S. They are often used in indoor sprays, pet shampoos, and aerosol bombs to kill flying and jumping insects.
Resmethrin is a pyrethroid insecticide. Insecticides in this family share some chemical structures and a mode of action with a plant-derived insecticide. However, they generally are more toxic and more persistent than their naturally occurring chemical relatives.
Sulfometuron methyl is an herbicide in the sulfonylurea chemical family. It is used mostly in nonagricultural situations, including roadsides and other rights-of-way, industrial facilities, and public lands. Oust is a common brand name for sulfometuron methyl products.
The fumigant sulfuryl fluoride is widely used to kill termites and other unwanted insects in buildings, ships, railroad cars, and wood products.
Sumithrin is an insecticide in the synthetic pyrethroid pesticide family. It is also called d- phenothrin. Marketed as an insecticide since 1977, it is sold by many pesticide companies using a variety of brand names, including Raid, Enforcer, Ortho, and Anvil. There are about 250 sumithrin-containing pesticide products registered for sale in the U.S.
Triclopyr is a broadleaf herbicide used primarily on pastures, woodlands, and rights of way. Garlon 3A and Garlon 4 are brand names of common triclopyl herbicides. Two forms of triclopyr are used as herbicides: the triethylamine salt (found in Garlon 3A) and the butoxyethyl ester (found in Garlon 4).