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SPRI Emission Reporting Threshold
0.001 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Water
0.001 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Waste Water
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?
Azamethiphos is found as a colourless to grey crystalline powder or sometimes as orange yellow granules. It is usually available commercially as a wettable powder. Azamethiphos melts at 89 degrees celsius. It is soluble in water and sea water and dissolves very well in organic (carbon-containing) solvents.
What is it used for?
Azamethiphos is an organophosphorus pesticide, which works by interfering with the transmission of nerve impulses. It has been used in a spray form to control insects such as cockroaches and flies in buildings, warehouses and intensive farming installations. It has also been used in the UK (particularly in Scotland) in fish farming, to control external parasites such as sea lice on the Atlantic Salmon. This application replaces the use of the hazardous "red list" pollutant Dichlorvos.
Where does it come from?
Releases of Azamethiphos may occur during its use as a pesticide. It may also be released during its manufacture, transport and storage. There are not thought to be any natural sources of Azamethiphos to the environment.
How might it affect the environment?
When ingested, Azamethiphos is moderately toxic to mammals and highly toxic to birds and to aquatic species (particularly larvae). Great care must be taken over the dosage level of Azamethiphos used in fish farming because even a slight overdose can harm or kill the fish. Azamethiphos degrades in seawater within a matter of days - and its degradation products are removed within several months. Due to its high solubility, it is very unlikley to accumulate in sediments. Azamethiphos does not accumulate in exposed animals or aquatic organisms, as it is broken down and excreted. Azamethiphos pollution is unlikely to have any impacts on the global environment.
How might exposure to it affect human health?
Azamethiphos exposure mainly occurs in the occupational setting. Azamethiphos can enter the body by inhalation of air containing azamethiphos, ingestion of contaminated food or water, or by dermal contact with azamethiphos. Inhalation of air containing azamethiphos may cause a number of adverse health effects including headache, weakness, nervousness, sweating, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. Exposure to extremely high levels may result in muscular twitching, eye pain, slurred speech, colic, hypersalivation, heart complaints, breathing difficulties, convulsions and unconsciousness. Ingestion of azamethiphos can lead to effects similar to those for inhalation. Dermal contact with azamethiphos may cause skin irritation and sensitisation. Absorption of azamethiphos through the skin may cause similar effects as those for inhalation and ingestion. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has not designated azamethiphos in terms of its carcinogenicity. However, exposure to azamethiphos at normal background levels is unlikely to have any adverse effect on human health.
What steps are being taken to limit the potential impacts?
Releases of Azamethiphos are controlled through the UK Pollution, Prevention and Control (PPC) Regulations. Azamethiphos is also regulated as a pesticide through the Food and Environmental Protection Act (FEPA 1985) and the Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR 1986). Azamethiphos is listed for authorised use as a pesticide in the UK (including Scotland) in the Pesticide Safety Directorate. European Directives concerned with releases of Azamethiphos include that which controls pollution of the aquatic environment by dangerous substances (76/464/EEC) and it is also regulated through the European Directive concerned with levels of pesticide residues in foods (93/58/EC) - which in Scotland is implemented by the Maximum Levels in Crops, Foods and Feedstuffs regulations (MRL 2000). Although its use in poultry and animal housing and as a public hygiene insecticide was approved by the EU Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) in 2001, it is possible that all uses will eventually be phased out through European legislation.