The toxicological properties of impurities in malathion

Arch Toxicol. 1979 Jun 8;42(2):95-106. doi: 10.1007/BF00316489.


During a malaria eradication programme in Pakistan in 1976, out of 7,500 spraymen, 2,800 became poisoned and 5 died. The major determinant of this poisoning has been identified as isomalathion present as an impurity in the malathion. It seems almost certain that the isomalathion was produced during storage of the formulated malathion. The quantitative correlation found between isomalathion content and toxicity of many field samples of malathion has been confirmed by an examination of mixtures of pure compounds. Addition of known amounts of isomalathion to technical malathion indicates that other active substances are present. These impurities have been identified (trimethyl phosphorothioates) and have been shown to behave like isomalathion in potentiating the toxicity of malathion. Some preliminary work on their toxicological properties is reported. The mechanisms involved in the potentiation of the toxicity of malathion are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Crystallization
  • Drug Contamination
  • Female
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Malathion / analogs & derivatives
  • Malathion / isolation & purification
  • Malathion / toxicity*
  • Rats


  • Malathion