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Alternative NamesCarbofos poisoning; Compound 4049 poisoning; Cythion poisoning; Fosfothion poisoning; Mercaptothion poisoning
Definition Return to top
Malathion is a type of insecticide, a product used to kill or control bugs. Poisoning may occur if you swallow malathion, handle the product without gloves, or fail to wash hands soon after exposure. Significant amounts are absorbed through the skin unless proper precautions are taken.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
For information on general insecticide poisonings, see Insecticides.
Poisonous Ingredient Return to top
Where Found Return to top
Malathion is used for agricultural purposes to kill and control insects on crops and in gardens. It is also used in government programs to kill mosquitos in large outdoor areas.
Malathion may also be found in certain products to kill head lice.
Symptoms Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Call poison control for appropriate treatment information. If malathion is on skin, wash area thoroughly for at least 15 minutes.
Before Calling Emergency Return to top
Determine the following information:
Poison Control Return to top
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to Expect at the Emergency Room Return to top
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The patient may receive:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Patients that continue to improve over the first 4 to 6 hours (after receiving medical treatment) usually recover.
References Return to top
Toxicological Profile for Malathion. Atlanta, GA: Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR); 2003.Update Date: 2/16/2009 Updated by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Stephen C. Acosta, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (10/24/2007).