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What is lindane?
Lindane is 1,2,3,4,5,6-hexachlorocyclohexane, a musty-smelling crystalline solid used as an insecticide, especially to treat lice and scabies on the skin
of animals and humans. Of the many possible isomers, only the isomer shown at left has insecticide action. It is the active ingredient in many flea shampoos, soaps, and creams.
Lindane's use as an insecticide has declined because fleas and lice have developed resistance to it. Like most chlorocarbon pesticides, it degrades slowly in the environment and it accumulates in the fatty tissues of organisms at the top of the food chain. Many countries have banned or restricted its use. Lindane is no longer manufactured in the United States.
Lindane is toxic to humans as well as to pests. It is not water soluble but is soluble in fat and can pass directly through the skin. Toxic reactions range from mild skin irritation to dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and even convulsions and death. The most severe of these reactions is usually the result of accidental ingestion rather than skin contact.
The estimated fatal dose is 150 mg/kg of body weight. Children and infants and pregnant women should avoid any contact with lindane.
The Merck Index (Merck & Co.)
Lindane (ExToxNet, Cornell University)
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