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Lindane: Pesticides That Persist In Water

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Structure of γ-hexachlorocyclohexane (lindane)...

Lindane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lindane or gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane is a chemical that has been used as an agricultural pesticide (used to kill wireworms, root maggots and flea beetles) and as a chemical treatment for lice and scabies. Lindane is classified as a neurotoxin, and as such can affect the nervous system in humans, as well as the liver, lungs and kidneys and is considered a possible carcinogen.

Where was this pesticide used and what are the health risks?

During its use as a pesticide, acute occupational exposure increased the risk of illness, characterized by symptoms such as headache, dizziness, seizures, convulsions and rarely, death. There is dispute over whether the chemical is genotoxic (meaning it causes damage at the genetic level) but most animal studies seem to agree that prenatal exposure can alter thyroid hormone levels and affect brain development in children. These studies also indicate that Lindane can cause damage to vital organs like the liver, ling, kidney, spleen, thymus and testes in adults.

Lindane appears on the list of hazardous chemicals from the World Health Organisation and use of this chemical was banned almost completely by 2007. It can still be found in “second line” treatments for lice and scabies. This means that when conventional treatments do not work, Lindane-based treatments can be used. However, this remains controversial due to its tenuous link to cancer. Lindane is no longer produced in the US and is imported from elsewhere for these pharmaceutical purposes.

If it was banned, why should I worry about it now?

Now that handling and production of this poison is limited and strictly regulated, exposure in large doses is not as common but Lindane persists in the environment, which means that it can move through the atmosphere to regions far beyond its area of use or production. (Lindane was never manufactured in Canada, but was used on a variety of crops, including canola in the prairies.) Because it is readily released into the air it can be inhaled by humans and wildlife and spread around on the wind. From the air it can be deposited via condensation into ground water sources and the soil. Lindane accumulates in wildlife in high levels, particularly fish, and can actually biomagnify in some animals like lake trout, seals and whales. Health Canada states that exposure is not limited, but includes the general population due to the use of the chemical in seed treatments.

Even though it can be broken down by microbes or fungi over long periodsThis chemical does not decay in soil or water very quickly, it would take years for it to break down completely. One management suggestion was to use a process called “cracking” to transform the waste isomers into trichlorobenzene and hydrochloric acid, but each of these have health risks of their own. The former is thought to have adverse effects on the adrenal system in humans and the latter is highly corrosive.

Lindane can be removed from drinking water through the use of granular activated carbon filters and in regions where this filtration method is not used; it is recommended that your drinking water is treated at home. Reverse osmosis filtration systems offer the best bet for removing harmful pesticides and other chemicals that may still be in the water that comes from your kitchen faucet.

If you’re at all concerned about pesticides in your water, or you simply want to be certain, you should choose an Aquasafe Home Reverse Osmosis System. An Aquasafe Home Reverse Osmosis system will remove all contaminants from water, including hormones and pharmaceuticals, producing guaranteed safe water you can count on every time. And it’s only a few cents per liter! Shop online and save today.

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