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ToxFAQsTM for Tribufos


CAS#: 78-48-8

PDF Version, 341 KB


This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked health questions about Tribufos. For more information, you may call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-800-232-4636. This fact sheet is one in a series of summaries about hazardous substances and their health effects. This information is important because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.


What is tribufos?

Tribufos is a pesticide used to remove leaves from cotton plants:


What happens to tribufos in the environment?

  • Some of the tribufos sprayed on cotton plants can be found in the air at or near treated fields and in nearby water and soil.
  • Tribufos will not travel long distances in air.
  • Some tribufos may stay in the air for a short time after it is being sprayed on plants, but tribufos does not normally enter air from the soil.
  • Tribufos slowly breaks down in soil
  • Tribufos does not build up in the food chain.

How can I come in contact with tribufos?

  • You are unlikely to come into contact with tribufos unless you live near an area where tribufos is used on cotton plants.
  • Some cotton containing products such as cottonseed oil or cottonseed meal may contain very low amounts of tribufos. You could be exposed to it if you use these products for cooking.
  • You may also be exposed if you consume meat or milk from livestock fed tribufos- containing cottonseed products.

What are the health effects of tribufos?

Most people are not likely to be exposed to levels of tribufos high enough to cause signs and symptoms of acute toxicity.

In the unlikely event that you were exposed to very high levels, you might experience excessive sweating, diarrhea, drowsiness, unconsciousness, and difficulty breathing. You might also experience tearing of the eyes, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, loss of bladder control, and loss of muscle control.

Decreased body weight occurred in the offspring of pregnant rats exposed to high levels of tribufos.

Decreases in the number of rats born and their survival was also found when generations of rats were exposed to high levels of tribufos. The exposure levels were many times higher than levels allowed in human food sources.

EPA concluded that tribufos is unlikely to be carcinogenic at low doses, but likely to be carcinogenic at high doses. Small intestine, liver, and lung tumors have been reported in mice exposed to levels many times higher than levels allowed in human food sources.

EPA also concluded that human exposure to tribufos is at levels well below those associated with animal tumors.


How can I protect myself and my family from tribufos?

People who live near agricultural areas where tribufos is used should stay away from the treated area.

If you are aware that tribufos is being sprayed, you will want to go indoors during spraying and stay there for a few hours after spraying is complete.

Agricultural workers who come into contact with tribufos can change work clothes before entering the home and wash work clothes separately from other family clothing.


Is there a medical test to determine whether I’ve been exposed to tribufos?

There are no reliable medical tests to determine whether you have been exposed to tribufos.

If exposure to tribufos is suspected, your doctor may request testing to determine the activity of the enzymes butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) and/or acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in your blood. Ask to have red blood cell and hemoglobin levels checked when performing these tests.


Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?

The EPA has set acceptable limits for tribufos residues (tribufos and/or its breakdown products that stick to food or crops eaten by humans or animals). In or on food commodities (animal fat, meat, meat byproducts), 0.02–0.15 parts per million (ppm) is considered acceptable. Residues in undelinted cotton seeds can be up to 4 ppm. Byproducts from cotton gins (machines that process cotton) may have up to 40 ppm.


Where can I get more information?

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your community or state health or environmental quality department or:

For more information, contact:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-57
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO · 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Email: Contact CDC-INFO

ATSDR can also tell you the location of occupational and environmental health clinics. These clinics specialize in recognizing, evaluating, and treating illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances.

Contact Us:
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
    4770 Buford Hwy NE
    Atlanta, GA 30341
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    (800-232-4636)
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • New Hours of Operation
    8am-8pm ET/Monday-Friday
    Closed Holidays
    Contact CDC-INFO
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

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