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Sumithrin is a type I pyrethroid insecticide. Pyrethroids are synthetic versions of a natural insecticide produced by chrysanthemum flowers. Although pyrethroids are among the least toxic insecticides, they are nerve poisons. They act upon the sodium ion channels in nerve cell membranes.
The pesticide containing sumithrin being used in New York City and its suburbs is called Anvil. It is 10% sumithrin, 10% piperonyl butoxide and 80% inert ingredients. Piperonyl butoxide makes the pesticide more effective by preventing insects from detoxifying sumithrin.
Manufacturers are not required to disclose the inert ingredients, although they may be toxic also.
Inhaling pyrethroid insecticides can cause:
Skin contact can cause
Piperonyl butoxide can cause skin and eye irritation. All the health effects of this chemical have not been fully researched.
Rats fed high doses (1,000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight or millograms/kilogram) of pyrethrins (natural versions of pyrethroids) showed liver damage. There is also evidence that pyrethroids can harm the thyroid.
Pyrethroids, including sumithrin, have been shown in the lab to disrupt the endocrine system by mimicking the effects of the female sex hormone estrogen. In men, endocrine disruptors can lower the sperm count, and in women they can cause the growth of abnormal breast cells.
Piperonyl butoxide has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a possible human carcinogen.
Sumithrin is not very toxic to mammals, but it is highly toxic to bees and fish.
The half-life of sumithrin in soil is one day to sixteen weeks, depending on the type of soil.
Anvil is a brand name of a common sumithrin product. You can learn more about it from the details printed on the manufacturer’s product label.