Toxic Control Cautions and Warnings
and a few other facts
Excerpts from Steve Tvedten's book "The Best Control"
(Used here with permission.)

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Resistant lice infestations are so common now that people are using these dangerous over-the-counter poison shampoos for far longer periods or more frequently than they should and if you think this is "bad" - on 11/1/96 Warner Lambert manufacturer of the product Nix® received FDA approval to market this poison as a prophylactic agent! - Lice are already resistant to permethrin poison as reported in the U. S., Canada, the U.K., Israel and Czechoslovakia - but children are not resistant to these poisons. In the Winter/Spring/1997 issue of NPA's Progress a mother who lost her son to leukemia after she repeatedly shampooed his hair to "prevent" lice found an issue of Chemical Engineering News (in order to find a correlation with Nix® and Lindane) which had an article on the phasing out of chlorinated hydrocarbons. It included a specific chart which included a listing of endocrine disrupters. Synthetic pyrethroids such as permethrin found in Nix® were included in the chart with different herbicides, fungicides and pesticide poisons. They were all in the same category in terms of the health effects - and the negative effects were many!

"Treating" actual lice or scabies infestations with lindane can cause many adverse health problems including permanent seizure disorders and severe mental retardation. In February, 1993, Barre National, a generic lindane lotion manufacturer, settled the Santiago family's Massachusetts lawsuit for severe brain injury. Previously the pharmacy that sold the poison had settled with the family. In 1986, a pediatrician prescribed 2 ounces of Kwell (1% lindane) lotion to treat Jose Santiago's scabies infestation. (The Kwell brand product has been withdrawn from the market.) The pharmacist sold Mrs. Santiago 4 ounces of a generic brand. Mrs. Santiago applied it to her baby nightly for a week. Today, 9 year old Jose has a permanent seizure disorder and has only developed to the level of a 3 year old. Lindane is an organochlorine pesticide poison in the same family as the banned carcinogens DDT and chlordane. Lindane has been linked to serious brain injury and seizure disorders, and it is suspected of causing cancer, birth defects, fetal toxicity, developmental neurotoxicity, blood dyscrasias and reproductive disorders. In 1983, Public Citizen's Health Resource Group petitioned the FDA to ban all medicines containing lindane, as more seizures and brain damage kept being reported.

The National Pediculosis Association (NPA) had an article in the spring 1994 NPA's Progress written by a school nurse, Judy Magee. In 1992 she conducted a survey of 27 families with 119 children. She found: (1) 23% of the children had been "treated" with (doctor-prescribed) lindane. Only one of the six families said they used the lindane as prescribed. Most used this dangerous carcinogen more frequently, left it on longer or incorrectly used it with an oil based product. (2) Over the counter lice control products containing pyrethrins or pyrethroids were used on over 90% of the children during the past year. Only 18% of the families surveyed used the poisons according to label direction. (3) 32% of the children were "treated" with dangerous "home remedies." One mother rubs Black Flag Roach Killer into her children's hair every day.  Raid, flea soap, kerosene and/or the illegal roach product Chinese Chalk were also used. (4) The label directions on common lice poison products are written at a ninth or tenth grade reading level. One-third of U.S. adults read at or below the eighth grade level. One quarter of the families Judy Magee surveyed could not read English.

In May, 1994, the federal German Environmental Protection Agency issued a warning about the indoor use of any insecticide sprays containing pyrethroids. Pyrethrins are derived from a chrysanthemum flower; 2000 years ago the Chinese use dried flowers containing pyrethrum to kill fleas and lice. Synthetic pyrethroids were initially developed to be synthetic analogs to pyrethrins, but molecularly their structures have greatly diverged  Pyrethroids kill by affecting the nervous system, and their mode of action appears to be similar to DDT's. Many pyrethroids contain halogens, e.g., chlorine, bromine or fluorine atoms and as the German EPA warns they also attack human health. Permethrin, resmethrin, allethrin, tetramethrin, cyfluthrin, fluvalinate, fenvalerate and phenothrin are all synthetic pyrethroid poisons. The unregistered roach killer Chinese Chalk appears to contain a very toxic pyrethroid called deltamethrin. We never advise using any volatile, synthetic pyrethroid or lindane shampoos on your child.

Even the least-toxic, over-the-counter pesticide poison shampoos or lotions containing pyrethroids (e.g, permethrin) or pyrethrins can cause many health reactions in many humans, e.g., many different allergic and respiratory problems (especially severe in asthmatics) and a strange tingling, itching and/or a burning skin sensation called paresthisia are common health complaints. That is why they have so many health warnings on them. Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is a synergistic toxin added to many insecticide poisons, especially to pyrethrin and pyrethroids, to make them more lethal "to insects." PBO makes it harder to insects (and any other exposed organism) to detoxify the insecticidal poison. Studies from the U.S. and Japan indicate that PBO exposure leads to liver tumors in rodents and has negative reproductive, developmental and behavioral effects in mice. These negative effects are increasingly severe in later generations of offspring.

Before applying synthetic pyrethroids, Roussel Uclaf Corporation notes in The Professional's Notebook, "Any uncovered skin surface may be a potentially dangerous situation...Protective clothing should be laundered separately on a regular basis to prevent the concentration of pesticide poisons from building up and contaminating other clothing. Eye protection and head gear are essential. Splash backs do occur. The eyes, nose and mouth are particularly vulnerable sites for pesticide poison exposure. Good safety glasses or goggles and a brimmed hat will protect the eyes. Respiratory equipment may be required if instructed by the product label based on inhalation studies. Soap and water are essential safety tools. Always wash hands thoroughly after handling chemicals, specifically pesticides, to avoid accidentally contaminating eyes, nose or mouth."

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health's web page fact sheet on mosquito repellents I looked at on 1/15/97 notes on mosquito repellent use precautions - Do not apply permethrin to skin. Yet their web page on Pediculosis advises washing with pyrethrins! The Eleventh Edition of the Merck Index on page 1266 under Pyrethrin has this caution: Can cause severe allergies, dermatitis, systemic allergic reactions. Large amounts may cause nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, headache and other CNS (Central Nervous system) disturbances. In Shirley A. Briggs' "Basic Guide to Pesticides" she notes that acute (one time) oral exposure to permethrin has a low to high toxicity, that nothing was known about acute dermal toxicity and that acute inhalation toxicity was also low to high and that long-term or chronic toxicity could cause blood damage.  There is a Washington Post article that quotes Cheston Berlin Jr. a pediatrician and pharmacologist as saying "many doctors are recommending to their patients several different lice shampoos that are available without prescription. Most rely on the chemicals permethrin and pyrethrins as active ingredients, which are (supposedly) "nontoxic" in humans because they are so rapidly metabolized." Someone ought to tell the good Doctor what Piperonyl butoxide does - it stops this metabolizing process and is twice as strong in these shampoos than it is in a can of Raid®!

The eighth edition of SAXS Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials notes, "Piperonyl Butoxide (C19H30O5) Safety Profile: Poison by skin contact. Moderately toxic by ingestion and intraperitoneal routes. An experimental teratogen. Experimental reproductive effects. Many glycol ether compounds have dangerous human reproductive effects. Questionable carcinogen with experimental tumorigenic data. Mutation data reported. Combustible when exposed to heat or flame; can react with oxidizing materials" SAXS also noted, "Pyrethrins Safety Profile: Moderately toxic to humans by ingestion. Poison experimentally by ingestion, intraperitoneal and intravenous route. Experimental reproductive effects...can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous system effects. A dose of 15 grams (only a little more than 1/2 ounce) has caused the death of a child. Chronic exposures can cause liver damage."

A 37-year old woman developed severe shortness of breath five minutes after beginning to wash her family dog with D-Flea® insecticide shampoo containing pyrethrin. Her death shortly after her arrival at the nearest hospital was attributed to sudden, irreversible, bronchial spasm from exposure to the pyrethrin shampoo. According to a report by Paul M. Wax of Rochester, New York - Clinical toxicology (32:4, 1994).

If you think the Raid® example was bad, I noticed an advertisment from FMC® in the May 1998 Service Technician/PCT that proudly proclaims the termiticide (poison) they sell to use against termites is the same active poison ingredient used as a lice shampoo for children! Then FMC® notes that in soil degradation studies conducted all across the country this termiticide poison (permethrin) has been shown to be the longest lasting soil poison! - Implying that if your children get lice you can simply have the termite man spray their heads with the longest-lasting soil poison on the market today! Amazing! Many people have safely gotten control of resistant head lice with Not Nice to Lice® Shampoo and Nit Remover.

"Our" Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not expected to make a decision on the re-registration of PBO until at least 1996. "Our" Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still maintains that lindane products are "safe and effective when used as directed!" This in spite of all of the contrary health evidence and the federal law that clearly states it is illegal to say any pesticide poison is "safe". On March 16, 1994, "our" EPA stated that lindane will remain on the market while it (slowly) compiles more health data on its risks. Note: way back in 1977, EPA initiated a special review of lindane due to all of the known and suspected health problems and negative environmental effects then yet no serious action has yet been taken. Prescription lindane lice and scabies poisons are still being used on children by family members and in hospitals, schools and other institutions. Lindane is also still being used to treat Christmas trees, agricultural seeds, livestock, pecans, logs and lumber, ornamentals, forest trees, pets, households and other buildings and assorted fruits and vegetables! Bon appetit!

(Web Mistress Note:  A little license was taken with title and some emphasis for the web site.  However, the content has not been changed from the book "The Best Control")