*IARC: International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Mirex is a bait insecticide used against a number of insect pests. It had been used heavily in South America and South Africa. Secondary use of mirex as a fire retardant in plastics, paints, and electrical goods is currently heavily restricted or banned in most countries. Mirex is highly resistant to biodegradation and has a half-life of up to ten years in sediment. In the presence of sunlight, mirex breaks down to a fare more potent toxin, photomirex. Mirex is known to be one of the most stable and persistent pesticides. Mirex has been detected in Arctic freshwater, terrestrial organisms and in core sediment samples in Lake Ontario. It had also been found in lake trouts captured in Lake Ontario, in fathead minnows and beluga whale oil from the St. Lawrence River.
Mirex levels in human milk are above average for communities consuming high amounts of fish and sea bird eggs. Levels in the milk of Inuit from Nunavik, northern Quebec, are 10 times higher than those in southern Canadian residents. Even higher concentrations of Mirex are seen in fat tissue from Greenland Inuit.(WFPHA, World Federation of Public Health Associations, 2000).
There have been few studies on human exposures, and little data exists for human health effects of mirex. Animal studies have shown several adverse reactions to mirex doses administered through diet. In rats, mirex exhibits toxic effects on foetuses, including cataract formation and it caused liver hypertrophy following long-term, low-dose exposure in rats. Mirex is also associated with suppression of the immune system. (WFPHA, 2000). The
In addition to the severe effects of mirex on test animals, a reduction in germination and emergence of several plant species has been observed, indicating that mirex is highly toxic to a wide variety of systems. Mirex administered to fish results in kidney lesions and gill damage. (WFPHA, 2000).
Hazardous Substances Data Bank: type Mirex
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with toxicity data from the Vermont Safety Information Resources,
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