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Endosulfan

Thiodan, Endox, Malix

SPRI Emission Reporting Threshold
10.0 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Air
0.0005 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Water
0.0005 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Waste Water
1.00 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Land
Disclaimer
This sheet is a generic summary, designed to give the reader a basic level of background information about the substance in question. Great care has been taken to represent as effectively and correctly as possible the broad range of (not necessarily consistent) information which is available from a variety of sources. The reader must accept therefore that this sheet has no legal status and cannot be relied upon in any legal proceedings. SEPA disclaims any responsibility or liability whatsoever for errors and omissions in this sheet.
What is it?
Endosulfan is a mixture of two forms, alpha- and beta-. Under normal conditions, pure Endosulfan will be found as colourless crystals which have a very faint smell. It is often impure, in which case it is found as brown flakes or even a waxy solid. Pure Endosulfan melts at 106 degrees celsius, whereas the melting point of impure forms is somewhat lower, 70-100 degrees celsius. Over time, Endosulfan will be oxidised by air. It is also corrosive to iron. Endosulfan does not dissolve in water, but will dissolve in most organic (carbon-containing) solvents.
What is it used for?
Endosulfan is an organochlorine pesticide. It is used to control insects and mites on crops and fruit bushes.
Where does it come from?
Most releases of Endosulfan occur through its manufacture, transport, storage and application as an insecticide. There are not thought to be any natural sources of Endosulfan to the environment.
How might it affect the environment?
Endosulfan is toxic to a range of wildlife, particularly aquatic organisms. There is concern that exposure to Endosulfan may interfere with the hormone systems - that is an "endocrine disruptor". At high concentrations, resulting from an accidental spill for example, Endosulfan may also damage plants. It binds strongly to soil particles and, depending on conditions, may persist for months to years. Significant seepage to grounwaters is unlikely. That which runs off into surface waters will break down only slowly. Relatively small amounts of Endosulfan may evaporate and will be broken down in air in a matter of hours. Endosulfan is readily accumulated and concentrated in the environment. It is not considered likely that Endosulfan pollution has any effects on the global environment.
How might exposure to it affect human health?
Endosulfan can enter the body either by inhalation of air containing endosulfan, ingestion of contaminated water or food, or by dermal contact with endosulfan. Inhalation of air containing endosulfan can cause breathing difficulties (dyspnea) and the skin may turn blue in colour (cyanosis). Exposure to high levels of endosulfan can affect the central nervous system and may cause tremors, convulsions, agitation and amnesia. Ingestion of endosulfan can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Ingestion of large quantities may cause similar symptoms as those for inhalation and in extreme cases can result in death. Dermal contact with endosulfan can cause skin irritation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has not designated endosulfan in terms of its carcinogenicity. However, exposure to endosulfan at normal background levels is unlikely to have any adverse effect on human health.
What steps are being taken to limit the potential impacts?
Endosulfan is a UK Red List pollutant highlighting that it is of concern because of its potentially harmful impacts on the environment and human health. Releases of Endosulfan are controlled through the Food and Environmental Protection Act (FEPA 1985), the Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR 1986), the UK Pollution, Prevention and Control (PPC) Regulations and the UK Surface Waters (Dangerous Substances) Regulations (SI 1997/2560). European Directives regulating levels of Endosulfan include that concerned with pollution of the aquatic environment (76/464/EEC) and it is listed as a "priority substance" in the Water Framework Directive. At an international level, Endosulfan is regulated through the OSPAR Convention which protects the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic Ocean.