[Health effects of pyrethrins and pyrethroids]

Arh Hig Rada Toksikol. 2006 Jun;57(2):237-43.
[Article in Croatian]


Pyrethrins, natural extracts of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium and Chrysanthemum cocineum flowers, and pyrethroids, synthetic analogues and derivatives of pyrethrins, are powerful insecticides. They are widely used in households and insect control in pets or livestock, in textiles such as carpets, wallpapers, furniture and clothes, as well as in agriculture, forestry and public health services. This article brings a list of pyrethrin and pyrethroid insecticides registered for use in plant protection in Croatia. Pyrethrins and pyrethroids can enter the organism by ingestion (accidental or suicidal ingestion or in food), by inhalation and/or by skin contact. Although these pesticides pose a relatively low risk to mammals due to rapid metabolism with no significant accumulation, they can induce adverse health effects, more often in acute poisoning, but also due to chronic exposure. The primary target of pyrethrin and pyrethroid toxicity is the nervous system, since they act directly on the sodium channels of nerve cell axons, leading to hyperexcitation. Another important toxicological mechanism is allergenicity, which is more pronounced with pyrethrins than with synthetic pyrethroids. Because there is no antidote for pyrethrin and pyrethroid poisoning, treatment is symptomatic and supportive. The article discusses the measures for poisoning prevention and alleviation of exposure to pyrethrins and pyrethroids in occupational settings and in general population.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Insecticides / pharmacokinetics
  • Insecticides / poisoning
  • Nervous System / drug effects
  • Pyrethrins / adverse effects*
  • Pyrethrins / pharmacokinetics
  • Pyrethrins / poisoning


  • Insecticides
  • Pyrethrins