Toxaphene Diagram A diagram of a toxaphene molecule.

Toxaphene is a powerful insecticide once used for livestock, poultry, and some crops like vegetables and cotton. It was also used to kill unwanted fish in some lakes. Toxaphene has a yellow to amber color with a waxy appearance.

Toxaphene is incredibly toxic. It was used to treat cattle for mange in the 1970s…until it started killing the cattle. In humans, long-term exposure can result in:

  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Damage to the central nervous system
  • Immune system suppression
  • Cancer
  • Worst of all: death

Symptoms of toxaphene exposure include:

  • Restlessness
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Tremors
  • Spasms
  • Convulsions

The good news is that toxaphene was banned from use in the United States in 1990 and then outlawed in 2001 by the Stockholm Convention. However, exposure is still possible, even today. Toxaphene sometimes enters the environment from spills at hazardous waste sites. The chemical also does not dissolve well in water, so it can be present in the environment for many, many years.

Toxaphene can be removed from your home’s drinking water through your refrigerator water filter. Fridge filters that remove toxaphene include: