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Alternative names

Poisoning caused by an overdose of malathion.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • malathion

Where Found

  • some brands of insecticide
Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • body as a whole
    • weakness
    • sweating
    • convulsions
    • increased urination
  • respiratory
    • difficulty breathing
  • heart and blood vessels
    • low or high blood pressure
    • slow or rapid heart rate
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat
    • small pupils (not reactive to light)
    • increased tearing
    • increased salivation
  • skin
    • blue skin (lips and fingernails)
  • gastrointestinal
    • loss of appetite
    • abdominal cramps
    • diarrhea
    • nausea, vomiting
  • nervous system
    • headache
    • anxiety
    • dizziness
    • coma
    • confusion
    • agitation
Note: Serious poisoning can occur from just handling the malathion without gloves or by failing to wash hands soon after exposure. Significant amounts are absorbed through the skin unless proper precautions are observed.

Home Treatment

Call Poison Control Centers for appropriate treatment information. If malathion is on skin, wash area thoroughly for at least 15 minutes. Mouth to mouth resuscitation may be necessary if the person stops breathing.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:
  • the patient's age, weight, and condition
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)
  • the time it was swallowed
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the person to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room

Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:
  • Establish and maintain airway.
  • Wash areas of skin exposed to the insecticide .
  • Use gastric lavage .
  • Give an antidote (atropine)
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)

Continued improvement of symptoms over the first 4 to 6 hours under proper medical care usually indicates that recovery will occur.

Update Date: 2/23/2004

Cherlin Johnson, M.D., Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT