This insecticide is used on cotton, cereal grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. It has also been used to control ticks and mites in livestock.
Toxaphene was the most widely used pesticide in the U.S. in 1975. Up to 50 percent of a toxaphene release can persist in the soil for up to 12 years.
It is highly toxic to fish; brook trout exposed to toxaphene for 90 days experienced a 46 percent reduction in weight and reduced egg viability, and long-term exposure to levels of 0.5 micrograms per litre of water reduced egg viability to zero.
For humans, the most likely source of toxaphene exposure is food. While the toxicity to humans of direct exposure is not high, toxaphene has been listed as a possible human carcinogen due to its effects on laboratory animals.
Thirty-seven countries have banned toxaphene, and 11 others have severely restricted its use.