Aldrin and dieldrin: The common names of two structurally similar compounds that were once used as insecticides. They are chemicals that are made in the laboratory and do not occur naturally in the environment.
The scientific name for aldrin is 1,2,3,4,10,10-hexachloro-1,4,4á,5,8,8á-hexahydro-1,4-endo,exo-5,8-dimethanonaphthalene. The abbreviation for the scientific name of aldrin is HHDN. Technical-grade aldrin contains not less than 85.5% aldrin. The trade names used for aldrin include Aldrec, Aldrex, Drinox, Octalene, Seedrin, and Compound 118.
The scientific name for dieldrin is 1,2,3,4,10,10-hexachloro-6,7-epoxy-1,4,4á,5,6,7,8,8á-octahydro-1,4-endo,exo-5,8-dimethanonaphthalene. The abbreviation for the scientific name for dieldrin is HEOD. Technical-grade dieldrin contains not less than 85% dieldrin. The trade names used for dieldrin include Alvit, Dieldrix, Octalox, Quintox, and Red Shield.
Aldrin and dieldrin are no longer produced or used. From the 1950s until 1970, aldrin and dieldrin were used extensively as insecticides on crops such as corn and cotton. The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) canceled all uses of aldrin and dieldrin in 1970. In 1972, however, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved aldrin and dieldrin for killing termites. Use of aldrin and dieldrin to control termites continued until 1987. In 1987, the manufacturer voluntarily canceled the registration for use in controlling termites.
Aldrin and dieldrin can still enter the environment from accidental spills or leaks from storage containers at waste sites. Aldrin and dieldrin are still present in the environment from past uses. Sunlight and bacteria in the environment can change aldrin to dieldrin.
Dieldrin breaks down (degrades) very slowly. It sticks to soil and may stay there unchanged for many years. Water does not easily wash dieldrin off soil. Dieldrin does not dissolve in water very well and is therefore not found in water at high concentrations. Most dieldrin in the environment attaches to soil and to sediments at the bottoms of lakes, ponds, and streams. Dieldrin can travel large distances by attaching to dust particles, which can then be transported great distances by the wind. Dieldrin can evaporate slowly from surface water or soil. In the air, dieldrin changes to photodieldrin within a few days. Plants can take up dieldrin from the soil and store it in their leaves and roots. Fish or animals that eat dieldrin-contaminated materials store a large amount of the dieldrin in their fat. Animals or fish that eat other animals have levels of dieldrin in their fat many times higher than animals or fish that eat plants.
Exposure to aldrin is generally limited because aldrin is changed quickly to dieldrin in the environment. Dieldrin remains in the environment for a long time and is usually detected in soil, sediment, and animal fat. Levels of both aldrin and dieldrin have decreased over the years since they are no longer produced or used. The levels of aldrin and dieldrin in air and water are typically very low.
Aldrin can enter the bloodstream through the lungs, the stomach, or the skin. Exposure to aldrin or dieldrin around hazardous waste sites can mainly occur by breathing contaminated air or touching contaminated soil. Exposure near hazardous waste sites can also occur by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Exposure of the general population most likely occurs through eating food contaminated with aldrin or dieldrin. Exposure of some infants occurs by drinking mother's milk containing aldrin or dieldrin.
Once aldrin is inside the body, it quickly changes to dieldrin. Dieldrin then stays in fat for a long time. Dieldrin can change to other products. Most dieldrin and its breakdown products leave the body in the feces. Some breakdown products can also leave in the urine. It can take many weeks or years for all of the compound to leave the body.
Aldrin and dieldrin affect health in similar ways. Symptoms of aldrin and dieldrin poisoning have been seen in people who were exposed to very large amounts of these pesticides during their manufacture. Symptoms of poisoning have also been seen in people who intentionally or accidentally ate or drank large amounts of aldrin or dieldrin. Most of these people experienced convulsions or other nervous system effects, and some had kidney damage. Some people who intentionally ate or drank large amounts of aldrin or dieldrin died.
Health effects in people exposed to smaller amounts of aldrin or dieldrin occur because levels of the chemicals build up in the body over time. Exposure to moderate levels of aldrin or dieldrin for a long time causes headaches, dizziness, irritability, vomiting, or uncontrollable muscle movements. Some sensitive people seem to develop a condition in which aldrin or dieldrin causes the body to destroy its own blood cells. We do not know whether aldrin or dieldrin affects the ability of people to fight diseases. We also do not know whether aldrin or dieldrin affects the ability of men to father children, or causes birth defects or cancer in people. Based on studies in animals, the EPA has determined that aldrin and dieldrin are probable human carcinogens.
Children can be exposed to aldrin or dieldrin in the same ways as adults, mainly by eating food contaminated with aldrin or dieldrin, or by exposure in homes treated for termites using aldrin or dieldrin. Children can also be exposed by coming into contact with aldrin- or dieldrin-contaminated water, air, or soil near hazardous waste sites. There are no known unique exposure pathways for children. It is not known if children's intake of aldrin or dieldrin per kilogram of body weight is different than that of adults.
Adults and children who swallowed (either by accident or on purpose) amounts of aldrin or dieldrin that were much greater than those found in the environment suffered convulsions, and some died. We do not know whether children differ from adults in their susceptibility to health effects from aldrin or dieldrin exposure.
It is not known whether aldrin or dieldrin affect the ability of people to have children or whether they cause birth defects in children. Some studies in animals show that females given aldrin or dieldrin by mouth have smaller numbers of babies. Some other studies show that large amounts of aldrin damage the testes, but it is unknown whether such large amounts affect the ability of animals to reproduce. Pregnant animals given aldrin or dieldrin by mouth had some babies with low birth weights and some with skeletal variations. Because these effects occurred in animals, they might also occur in humans. Aldrin and dieldrin can cross the placenta. Dieldrin has been found in human breast milk.
Since aldrin and dieldrin are no longer produced or used, exposure to these compounds will occur from past usage. Families with the greatest risk of exposure to aldrin and dieldrin are those living in homes that were once treated with either chemical for termite protection. Aldrin and dieldrin were usually applied to the basement level of homes to protect the foundation from termites. Studies indicate that detectable levels of both chemicals can exist in a home for up to 10 years after the first application. Before buying a home, families should investigate what, if any, pesticides have been used within the home.
EPA advises lifetime drinking water exposure concentration limits for aldrin and dieldrin of 0.001 and 0.002 mg/L, respectively, for protection against adverse noncancer health effects, that assume all of the exposure to the contaminant is from drinking water. Regarding cancer risk, EPA advises a lower drinking water exposure concentration limit of 0.0002 mg/L for aldrin and dieldrin that would, in theory, limit the lifetime risk for developing cancer from exposure to each compound to 1 in 10,000.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the residues of aldrin and dieldrin in raw foods. The allowable range for residues is from 0 to 0.1 ppm depending on the type of food product. This limits the intake of aldrin and dieldrin in food to levels considered to be safe.
EPA has named aldrin and dieldrin as hazardous solid waste materials. If quantities greater than 1 pound enter the environment, the National Response Center of the federal government must be told immediately.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommended a maximum average amount of aldrin and dieldrin in the air in the workplace to protect workers. This amount is 250 micrograms in a cubic meter of air (µg/m³) for an 8-hour workday over a 40-hour workweek.
NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) recommended the same limit (250 µg/m³) for both compounds for up to a 10-hour workday over a 40-hour workweek.
Exposure to aldrin and dieldrin happens mostly from eating contaminated foods, such as root crops, fish, or seafood. Aldrin and dieldrin build up in the ...
Cancer Classification. Toxic Effects. Neurobehavioral : Reproductive: Others: IARC*(1987): Group 3: Unclassifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans. Humans:
Aldrin and dieldrin: The common names of two structurally similar compounds that were once used as insecticides. They are chemicals that are made in the laboratory and ...
Aldrin/Dieldrin. Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
Aldrin/Dieldrin. Previous Uses: Aldrin/Dieldrin's use began in the 1950s as a pesticide. In 1974, the EPA banned all uses except termite control.