Orthene, also known by its chemical name acephate, is an insecticide used on many fruit and vegetable crops. Acephate is an organophosperous compound, the most common kind of chemical compound found in insecticides today. Orthene products work by disrupting the transmission of nerve impulses in their victims.
Orthene has traditionally been used on crops such as head lettuce, celery and cotton, though its current uses extend to flowers and fruit trees as well as ground crops. Specific pests targeted by orthene products include fire ants, cockroaches and aphids.
Orthene products come in pellet, powder and spray form. Many orthene products can be identified by the word orthene or acephate in the product name.
Toxicity to Humans
Inhalation or ingestion of orthene can result in poisoning symptoms, including dizziness, sweating, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and in severe cases, convulsions. Consult a medical professional in the event of suspected acephate poisoning.
Toxicity to Wildlife
Exposure to orthene can result in behavioural and developmental changes in organisms such as fish, amphibians and crustaceans.
Long-Term Health Risks
Acephate has been identified as a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning that long-term exposure can result in neurological damage. It has also been identified as a suspected endocrine disrupter and a possible carcinogen.