Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences
ISSN (Print): 2328-3912 ISSN (Online): 2328-3920 Website: Editor-in-chief: Alejandro González Medina
Open Access
Journal Browser
Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2013, 1(3), 33-36
DOI: 10.12691/aees-1-3-2
Open AccessReview Article

Synthetic Pyrethroids: Toxicity and Biodegradation

A.J. Thatheyus1, and A.Deborah Gnana Selvam2

1Postgraduate and Research Department of Zoology, The American College, Madurai

2Postgraduate Department of Immunology and Microbiology, The American College, Madurai

Pub. Date: May 22, 2013

Cite this paper:
A.J. Thatheyus and A.Deborah Gnana Selvam. Synthetic Pyrethroids: Toxicity and Biodegradation. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2013; 1(3):33-36. doi: 10.12691/aees-1-3-2


Synthetic pyrethroids are pesticides derived from naturally occurring pyrethrins, taken from pyrethrum of dried Chrysanthemum flowers. They are chemically designed to be more toxic with lower break down times and are formulated with synergists increasing potency and compromising the body’s ability to detoxify the pesticide. Though claimed to be selectively toxic to insects, synthetic pyrethroids are extremely toxic to aquatic organisms, including fish in concentrations similar to those used for controlling mosquito, black fly and tsetse fly larvae, which are the actual targets of pyrethroids. Many pyrethroids have been linked to the disruption of the endocrine system, reproduction and sexual development, interference with the immune system and the induction of breast cancer. The widespread use of pyrethroids is a major problem as they pollute the agricultural lands and water resources and affect non-target organisms and humans. Recent studies show that some microbes are able to degrade synthetic pyrethroids by esterase production and this application is proposed as an inexpensive and simple method. In the present work, the aspects related to the toxicity and biodegradation of synthetic pyrethroids are discussed.

synthetic pyrethroids toxicity biodegradation microbes

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Schmitt, C.J. Environmental Contaminants. US Geological Survey. 2005, 100 pp.
[2]  Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological Profile for Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids. US Department of Health and Human Services, 2003, 238pp.
[3]  Gan, J., Lee, S.J., Liu, W.P., Haver, D.L. and Kabashima, J.N . Distribution and Persistence of Pyrethroids in Runoff sediments. J Environ Qual 34:836-841.2005.
[4]  Amweg, E.L., Weston, D.P. and Ureda, N.M . Use and Toxicity of Pyrethroid Pesticides in the Central Valley, California, USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 24: 966-972. 2005.
[5]  Beenakumari, Madan, V.K. and Kathpal, T.S.. Pesticide residues in rainwater from Hisar, India. Environ Monit Assess 133:467-471.2007.
[6]  Khambay, B.P.S. Pyrethroid insecticides. The Royal Society of Chemistry.2002.
[7]  Mueller-Beilsehmidt, D. Toxicology and Environmental fate of synthetic pyrethroids. Journa of Pesticide Reform 10-\: 17pp, 1990.
[8]  Hildebrand, M.E., McRory, J.E., Snutch T.P. and Stea, A. Mammalian Voltage-Gated calcium channels are potently blocked by the pyrethroids insecticide Allethrin. The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 308: 805-813.2004.
[9]  Lifeng, T., Shoulin, W., Junmin, J., Xuezhao, S., Yannan, L., Qianli, W and Longsheng, C. Effects of Fenvalerate exposure on semen quality among occupational workers. Contraception 73: 92-96. 2006.
[10]  Bian, Q., Xu, L.C., Wang, S.L., Xia, Y.K., Tan, L.F., Chen, J.F., Song, L., Chang, H.C and Wang, X.R. Study on the relation between occupational Fenvalerate exposure and Spermatozoa DNA damage of pesticide factory workers. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 61: 999-1005. 2004.
[11]  Safety of Pyrethroids for public health use. World Health Organization. 2005. 77pp.
[12]  Chen S.Y., Zhang Z.W., He F.S., An epidemiological study on occupational acute pyrethroids poisoning in cotton farmers. Br J Ind Med 48:77-81. 1991.
[13]  Muller-Mohnssen H. Chronic sequelae and irreversible injuries following acute pyrethroids intoxication. Toxicol Lett 107:161-76. 1999.
[14]  Fishel, F.M. Pesticide toxicity profile: Synthetic Pyrethroid pesticides, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. 2005.
[15]  Saha, S and Kaviraj, A. Acute toxicity of synthetic pyrethroid Cypermethrin to some freshwater organisms. Bull. Environ. Contam.Toxicol.80: 49-52. 2008.
[16]  WHO. Chemical watch factsheet: Synthetic pyrethroids. World Health Organisation. 1995.
[17]  Qureshi, F.M., Akhtar, J., Badar, U., Fasim, F., Jameel, N., Raihan, S., Hassan, M and Ahmd, N. Towards effective bioremediation in Third World Counries. The Association of Environmental Health and Sciences. 2001.
[18]  Parvathavarthini, R. Biodegradation of Cypermethrin by Enterobacter asburiae, Post Graduate dissertation submitted to The American College, Madurai, India, 2006. 39pp.
[19]  Lee, S., Gan, J., Kim, J., Kabashima, J.N., Crowley, D.E. Microbial transformation of pyrethroid insecticides in aqueous and sediment phases. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 23: 1-6. 2003.
[20]  Maloney, S.E., Maule, A and Smith, A.R.W. Microbial transformation of the pyrethroids pesticide insecticides: Permethrin, Deltamethrin, Fastac, Fenvalerate and Fluvalinate. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 54:2874-2876. 1988.
[21]  Grant, R.J., Daniell, T.J. and Betts, W.B. Isolation and identification of synthetic pyrethorid-degrading bacteria. Journal of Applied Microbiology 92:534-540. 2002.