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Environmental fate and toxicology of methomyl

Reviews of environmental contamination and toxicology | 20 Sep 2012

AR Van Scoy, M Yue, X Deng and RS Tjeerdema
Abstract
The insecticide methomyl, an oxime carbamate, was first introduced in 1968 for broad spectrum control of several insect classes, including Lepidoptera, Hemiptera, Homoptera, Diptera, and Coleoptera. Like other carbamates, it inhibits AChE activity, resulting in nerve and/or tissue failure and possibly death. Considered highly toxic to insects (larval and adult stages), methomyl is thought to be metabolically degraded via mixed-function oxidase(s). Methomyl has both a low vapor pressure and Henry’s law constant; hence, volatilization is not a major dissipation route from either water or moist or dry soils. Photolysis represents a minor dissipation pathway; however, under catalytic conditions, degradation via photolysis does occur. Methomyl possesses a moderate-to-high water solubility; thus hydrolysis, under alkaline conditions, represents a major degradation pathway. Methomyl has a low-to-moderate sorption capacity to soil. Although results may vary with soil type and organic matter content, methomyl is unlikely to persist in complex soils. Methomyl is more rapidly degraded by microbes, and bacterial species have been identified that are capable of using methomyl as a carbon and/or nitrogen source. The main degradation products of methomyl from both abiotic and biotic processes are methomyl oxime, acetonitrile, and CO₂. Methomyl is moderately to highly toxic to fishes and very highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates. Methomyl is highly toxic orally to birds and mammals. Methomyl is classed as being highly toxic to humans via oral exposures, moderately toxic via inhalation, and slightly toxic via dermal exposure. At relatively high doses, it can be fatal to humans. Although methomyl has been widely used to treat field crops and has high water solubility, it has only infrequently been detected as a contaminant of water bodies in the USA. It is classified as a restricted-use insecticide because of its toxicity to multiple nontarget species. To prevent nontarget species toxicity or the possibility of contamination, as with all pesticides, great care should be taken when applying methomyl-containing products for agricultural, residential, or other uses.
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Concepts
Raoult's law, Vapor pressure, Henry's law, Nitrogen, Insecticide, Bacteria, Partial pressure, Insect
MeSH headings
Animals, Environmental Pollutants, Insecticides, Methomyl
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