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Permethrin is a synthetic chemical that is used as an insect repellent and insecticide. It is most often used to kill parasites and their eggs. In humans, a mild topical derivative of the pesticide is used to treat scabies and lice. It is available in powder, dust, spray, emulsifier and smoke forms.


Some of the market and brand names permethrin goes by include Ambush, Cellutec, Dragnet, BW-21-Z, Eksmin, Ectiban, FMC 33297, Indothrin, Kafil, Exmin, NRDC-143, Pounce, Kestrel, Pramex, PP 557, Torpedo and Qamlin.


Permethrin is essentially an insecticide. It is primarily used to fight pests in a number of crops. Some of the most common crops permethrin is used on include fruits, nuts, cotton, vegetables, mushrooms and potatoes.


Although permethrin is useful as a pesticide, permethrin can be dangerous to animals and human beings. It is almost certain to cause major irritation to the skin and eyes. When used injudiciously, permethrin can even cause infertility. It is classified as a non-toxic class II or class III pesticide, the benchmark classification for pesticides that can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. Because of this classification, permethrin is considered a restricted-use pesticide (RUP).


Skin irritation, redness, swelling and rashes are the early signs and symptoms of poisoning with permethrin. Other signs include irritability to sound and touch, cough, numbness, sensation of pricking, diarrhea, burning sensation, dizziness, fatigue, excessive salivation, muscle twitching, fluid in the lungs, nausea and seizures. These symptoms can vary depending on the kind of ingestion. Before rushing to the hospital, first aid has to be administered. This should involve giving the patient fresh air, rinsing the mouth, rinsing the eyes with fresh and clean water, removing contaminated clothes and washing skin with water and soap.

Ecological and Environmental Effects

Permethrin is known to cause no damage to some kinds of birds, while it can be deadly to others. In birds such as pheasants, Japanese quail and mallard ducks, it is not known to cause any toxicity. However, the effect is almost exactly the opposite in insects and other invertebrates that feed on fish. Inhaling certain quantities can cause extensive and immediate damage to bluefish; catfish; salmon; rainbow trout and bluegill sunfish. Permethrin also causes extensive breakdown in soil and groundwater. It is also known to debilitate the nutritive quality of plants, water and vegetables when used in excessive quantities.