Carbaryl is an insecticide (marketed as Sevin®) used on a wide range of crops, home gardens, lawns, and trees. It is commonly used to control aphids, fire ants, fleas, ticks, spiders, and many other outdoor pests. It is also used in some orchards to thin out blossoms on fruit trees. According to the WHO, it's also used in “public health and veterinary practice.”
The main source of human carbaryl ingestion is through food; it dissipates from water within a month or less and is yet to be reported in drinking water, though it could potentially arrive through over-spraying or spillage from its insecticidal use.
Health Impact of Carbaryl
Carbaryl is a neurotoxin, inhibiting the enzyme cholinesterase and leading to symptoms of irritation, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, convulsions, and coma with acute exposure.
In studies, mice were fed high daily doses of carbaryl for 2 years. Male mice had an increased number of blood vessel tumors at all dose levels. At the highest dose, both male and female mice had an increased number of kidney and liver cancers. Based on these studies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified carbaryl as ‘likely to cause cancer.’ In 2007, the EPA estimated the lifetime cancer risk from eating foods with carbaryl residues to be less than 1 in 30 million.
Long term exposure has been shown to cause headaches, memory loss, muscle weakness and cramps, and can potentially lead to kidney or liver damage. It is not believed to be carcinogenic.