Synonyms and Trade Names (partial list): Thiodan, Tiovel.
Appearance: A cream- to brown-colored solid that may appear in the form of crystals or flakes. It has a smell like turpentine.


Endosulfan is a broad spectrum, non-systemic organochlorine insecticide. It is used to control a number of insects on food crops such as grains, tea, fruits, and vegetables and on non-food crops such as tobacco and cotton. It is also used as a wood preservative.

Endosulfan applied to crops usually breaks down in a few weeks, but Endosulfan preferentially binds to soil particles and may take years to completely break down. Like other POPs chemicals, Endosulfan does not dissolve easily in water and will preferentially bind to aquatic sediments.

Similar to other POPs chemicals,Endosulfan will bioaccumulate into the tissues of animals living in endosulfan-contaminated water.

Usage in South East Asia


Used or Found in Country?

Years of Usage

Regulatory Controls














Viet Nam


(table references)

Potential Effects on Humans

The most likely way for people to be exposed is by eating food contaminated with Endosulfan. Endosulfan has been found in some food products such as oils, fats, and fruit and vegetable products. People have also been exposed to low levels of Endosulfan by skin contact with contaminated soil or by smoking cigarettes made from tobacco that has Endosulfan residues on it. Well water and public water supplies are not likely sources of exposure to Endosulfan. Workers can breathe in the chemical when spraying the pesticide on crops. Exposure can occur by breathing the dust or via contact with skin. Accidental spills and releases to the environment at hazardous waste disposal sites are also possible sources of exposure to endosulfan. The most likely exposure to Endosulfan for people living near hazardous waste sites is through contact with soils containing it.

Endosulfan affects the central nervous system, preventing normal function. Hyperactivity, nausea, dizziness, headache, or convulsions have been observed in adults exposed to high doses. Severe poisoning may result in death.

Studies of the effects of Endosulfan on animals suggest that long-term exposure to Endosulfan can also damage the kidneys, testes, and liver and may possibly affect the body's ability to fight infection. However, it is not known if these effects also occur in humans. It is unknown whether Endosulfan can cause cancer in humans. Studies in animals have provided inconclusive results.

For more information:

Adapted from Tox Facts; Toxicological Profile for Endosulfan (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service 1995).

Endosulphan insecticide container
Hatfield Consultants The World Bank funded by the Canadian POPs Trust Fund through the      
Canadian International Development Agency
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