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Captafol — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 by

Captafol is a broad spectrum protective contact fungicide from the sulfanilamide group. It is widely used outside the U.S. to control foliage and fruit diseases. It is an alkylating agent and produces genotoxic effects in a variety of systems. Captafol is created by reacting tetrahydrophthalimide and 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethylsulfenyl chloride in the presence of aqueous sodium hydroxide. Its physical form may vary from white crystalline solids to colorless or yellow crystals. It has a slight characteristic pungent odor.

Other chemical names for captafol include: 1H-Isoindole-1,3(2H)-dione, 3a,4,7,7a-tetrahydro-2-[(1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethyl)thio]-; (Tetrachloroethylthio)tetrahydrophthalimide; and N-((1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethyl)thio)-4-cyclohexene-1,2-dicarboximide.

Trade names include but are not limited to: Crisfolatan, Difolatan, Difosan, Folcid, Haipen, Kenofol, Merpafol, Pillartan, Sanseal, Santar-SM, Sanspor, and Sulfonimide. It is produced by the Scotts Company, Chevron, Makhteshim Again and Pillar International.

List of known side effects

Dermal, oral, ocular, and inhalation are the routes of exposure to captafol. Eye exposure may cause irritation, conjunctivitis, corneal opacity and inflammation. Dermal or skin exposure may result in dermatitis and skin sensitization. Captafol is also known to affect the digestive system when ingested. Symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting.

Other symptoms of captafol poisoning include bronchitis, wheezing, liver and kidney injury, high blood pressure, allergy development, anemia, weight loss, growth deficiency and depression. It is orally lethal to rats, and affects fertility in rabbits.

Captafol is known to be carcinogenic, causing adenocarcinomas in the small intestine, vascular tumors in the heart and spleen, heptocellular carcinomas, renal carcinomas in male rats, benign renal tumors in female rats and liver tumors in both sexes of rats. It may also cause lesions like lymphosarcomas, myeloproliferative disease, harderian gland hyperplasia, benign harderian gland adenomas and hemangiosarcomas.

This chemical is non-accumulative but is possibly teratogenic.

Body systems affected by captafol

Captafol may affect the eyes, the respiratory system, the central nervous system, digestive and reproductive system. It targets the pancreas, testicles, spleen, bone marrow, and kidney tissues.

Items that may contain captafol

Food items that may contain captafol are apples, citrus, tomato, cranberry, potato, coffee, pineapple, peanut, onion, stone fruit, cucumber, blueberry, prune, watermelon, sweet corn, wheat, barley, oilseed rape, leek and strawberry. It is used as a seed protectant in cotton, peanuts and rice.

Log and wood products may also have traces of captafol, since it is used in lumber and timber industries to reduce losses from wood rot fungi.

How to avoid captafol

Captafol is a dangerous, toxic chemical that may poison humans via the dermal, oral and inhalation routes of exposure. Prevent skin and eye contact by wearing chemical gloves, boots, coveralls and goggles. Inhalation of the chemical may also be a risk, therefore proper respiratory head gear must be worn, especially as an occupational hazard.

In case of inhalation, move the victim to open, fresh air. If skin contact occurs, wash well with soap and water. If spray mists or chemical dust gets in the eyes, irrigate with clean flowing water for at least 10 minutes. If a victim accidentally ingests the poison, do not induce vomiting but deliver victim to the nearest emergency department. In all cases, contact emergency medical services immediately.

Where to learn more


Captafol is known to be carcinogenic – it causes tumors and cancer.

Captafol has many negative side effects, and is detrimental to the liver and kidneys.

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