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Dieldrin – toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Tuesday, December 05, 2017 by

Dieldrin is an organochlorine insecticide that is structurally similar to Aldrin, another type of organochlorine insecticide. In its pure form, dieldrin is a mild-smelling white powder; technical-grade dieldrin, on the hand, is a tan-colored powder.

Dieldrin was once extensively used on corn and cotton from the 1950s until the middle of the 1970s, and was ultimately canceled in 1974. According to, dieldrin was canceled due to the multitude of health problems and environmental issues linked to its application.

List of known side effects

The ingestion or inhalation of dieldrin can lead to organochlorine compound poisoning. As per, this can result in an individual feeling prickling and tingling sensations on their skin, and can lead to them becoming hypersensitive to outside stimuli. Additionally, the affected can experience a wide array of other symptoms that include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Incoordination
  • Mental confusion
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Severe cases of dieldrin poisoning are marked by convulsions, respiratory depression, seizures and coma.

Moreover, organochlorine insecticides such as dieldrin have been linked to the increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. By inhibiting an enzyme present in the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene, these insecticides prevent the body from eliminating the chemicals and toxins that boost the likelihood of developing this degenerative neurological disorder. As reported by, dieldrin was particularly notable for increasing this risk sixfold.

Dieldrin is a potential human carcinogen. This designation is based on animal studies such as one where dieldrin-fed mice developed hepatic or liver tumors. Other animal experiments have shown that dieldrin can cause tumors to grow in the lungs, thyroid and adrenal glands.

This obsolete insecticide is a persistent environmental contaminant. In addition to adhering to soil and water, dieldrin has a tendency to bioaccumulate. This means that dieldrin can be found in soil, watersheds, bodies of water, and even in animal fat. Assuming that no additional exposure occurs, it can take as much as several years for the body to fully eliminate dieldrin.

Though not known to induce phytotoxicity in plants, dieldrin is hazardous to other organisms. Specifically, this chemical is toxic to birds, fish, and beneficial insects such as bees.

If allowed to burn, dieldrin can form toxic and irritating fumes of hydrogen chloride.

Body systems affected by dieldrin

Dieldrin targets the liver, kidneys, skin and central nervous system. In addition, dieldrin can harm the endocrine system as it’s been found to bind androgen receptors and create an estrogenic effect.

Items that can contain dieldrin

Prior to its cancellation, dieldrin was marketed under a small number of different names, with the most well-known ones being:

  • Alvit
  • Dieldrex
  • Octalox
  • Panoram D-31

How to avoid dieldrin

Dieldrin is no longer being used in most countries, though some continue to use and manufacture this chemical. As with most other toxic chemicals, those who work with dieldrin should adhere to the appropriate workplace practices to minimize exposure. As per the New Jersey Department of Health, these are:

  • Avoiding all types of contact with dieldrin by wearing the appropriate protective equipment: suits, gloves, footwear, and headgear. Respirators should be worn when necessary.
  • Getting special training to wash and clean contaminated clothing. In this event, clothing that has been exposed to dieldrin shouldn’t be taken home.
  • Avoiding drinking, eating, and smoking while handling, processing, or storing dieldrin.
  • Carefully washing hands at the end of each work shift and prior to eating, drinking, smoking, using the toilet, and/or applying cosmetics.
  • Providing eye wash fountains and emergency showers in the immediate work area.
  • Using a vacuum or the wet method to clean up dieldrin in case of spillage. Standard shop vacuums are not recommended. Instead, opt for high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuums. Dry sweeping is not advisable either.

Where to learn more


Dieldrin is an obsolete insecticide that is no longer in wide usage due to the various health- and environment-related problems caused by its application. This chemical is known to be a potential carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor that can increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease and cause organochlorine compound poisoning.

More than just being toxic to fish, birds, and bees, dieldrin can persist in the environment.

Sources include:


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