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What is Diazinon?

Diazinon is a potent insecticide once widely used to protect crops and control pests in homes and gardens. Its effectiveness stems from disrupting insects' nervous systems. However, due to health and environmental concerns, its residential use has been phased out in many countries. Curious about its impact and the alternatives now in use? Let's delve deeper into the world of pest control.
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Diazinon is an organophosphate synthesized from thiophosphoric acid as a colorless and odorless oil-like liquid, but may also be further processed to produce a granular form. It is known by many other names, including spectracide, dipofene, basudin, and its lengthy chemical name of O,O-Diethyl-O-(2-isopropyl-6-methyl-pyrimidine-4-yl). However, most people immediately recognize this substance as one of the best-known organophosphorus pesticides used to control cockroaches, fleas, and ants. When formulated for home and garden use, diazinon insecticide spray represents a one to five percent concentration, while industrial preparations typically contain 85-90 percent diazinon.

Like many other organophosphates, diazinon is a potent neurotoxin. Specifically, it permanently suppresses the activity of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme which is necessary for nerve function. The mechanism behind this action involves the agent’s phosphorus atom binding to the enzyme site. Since the role of acetylcholinesterase is to degrade the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, an excessive amount is left to concentrate in the synaptic cleft where it can no longer reach neurotransmitter receptors. This activity results in paralysis and, ultimately, death.

Diazinon can be used in pesticides to kill cockroaches.
Diazinon can be used in pesticides to kill cockroaches.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action in the late 1980s to stop the use of this chemical to treat the turf on golf courses because of its detrimental effect on bird populations. In December 2004, the sale of any diazinon-based insecticide or pesticide intended for residential lawn, garden, or indoor application was banned. However, it is not unlawful for consumers to use any product that may have been stored prior to the ban being initiated, as long as protocols for its handling and disposal are met. In addition, the EPA continues to allow the use of diazinon for agricultural use.

Diazinon can be used in an insecticide spray.
Diazinon can be used in an insecticide spray.

In terms of environmental impact, diazinon is considered non-systemic. It does not persist in the environment since it naturally degrades into other chemicals relatively quickly. In fact, the substance has a half live of only two to six weeks. However, although this substance may not bioconcetrate in the food chain, it can be transported through the soil by runoff and contaminate groundwater.

Obviously, ingestion of diazinon should be avoided. However, it can readily permeate the skin, from which it can enter the bloodstream and target the nervous system. For this reason, great care should be taken when handling this substance. Statistically, the incidence of accidental poisoning in humans is relatively low, but exposure to very high levels has proven fatal. Signs of mild toxicity include impaired vision with constricted pupils, dizziness, and muscle weakness, while severe toxicity is indicated by vomiting, slow pulse, labored breathing, and coma.

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to HomeQuestionsAnswered is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

Learn more...
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to HomeQuestionsAnswered is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

Learn more...

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    • Diazinon can be used in pesticides to kill cockroaches.
      By: R_R
      Diazinon can be used in pesticides to kill cockroaches.
    • Diazinon can be used in an insecticide spray.
      By: Hemeroskopion
      Diazinon can be used in an insecticide spray.