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Name: Fungicides

Use: kill fungus

Source: synthetic chemistry, plants

Recommended daily intake: none (not essential)

Absorption: intestine, inhalation, skin

Sensitive individuals: fetus, children, elderly

Toxicity/symptoms: nerous system, range of problems depending on the chemical

Regulatory facts: RfDs exist for many insecticides. Regulated by EPA

General facts: billions of pounds used every year in agricultural and residential use

Environmental: pesticides are used globally; some are very persistent in the environment

Recommendations: avoid, consider alternatives, Integrated Pest Management

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Fungicides are pesticides used to control fungi, microorganisms that include yeasts and molds. 

Fungicides are used to control both human fungal disease and fungi growing on food crops and landscape plants. Control of plant fungus is important not only because of possible damage to plants but because some fungi themselves are toxic. For example, Aspergillus flavas can contaminate nuts and grains. The fungus produces aflatoxin which, when ingested, can cause liver disease and even cancer. Other grain fungi produce an ergot alkaloid which can cause hallucinations.

Fungi that commonly infect ornamental and agricultural plants include powdery mildew, rusts, and root rot.


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The first fungicides contained sulfer, copper sulfate, mercury-based compounds, and other metal-containing compounds, but advances in synthetic chemistry have produced chemical fungicides for the treatment of human fungal diseases and agricultural applications.

hexachlorobenzene and fungicides containing mercury were widely used in the 1940s and 1950s to protect seed grain from soil fungus; usage was stopped when fungicide-coated seeds were accidentally ingested and people suffered serious health effects. (See Mercury Poisoning in Iraq - 1971.

External Links

  • Washington State University - Pesticide Education Program: education with an emphasis on personal safety, environmental protection, and effective integrated pest management.


Kamel F and Hoppin JA. Association of pesticide exposure with neurologic dysfunction and disease. Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Jun;112(9):950-8. Available online at EHPonline. (accessed: 30 June 2004).

MMWR (1999). Farm worker illness following exposure to carbofuran and other pesticides - Fresno County, California, 1998. February 19, 1999, 48(6), 113-116. (accessed: 5 July 2003)..

Dean, S. R., & Meola, R. W. (2002). Effect of diet composition on weight gain, sperm transfer, and insemination in the cat flea (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). J Med Entomol, 39(2), 370-375.

Dryden, M. W., & Gaafar, S. M. (1991). Blood consumption by the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae)

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