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Carbamates PDF Print E-mail

A group of chemicals based on carbamic acid (those containing sulphur are known as 'thiocarbamates'). Carbamates include the insecticides carbaryl, propoxur and bendiocarb which act on insects' nervous systems by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase; and methiocarb which is used in snail baits.

Carbamates work in much the same way as organophosphate-based insecticides, but the carbamates have a narrower spectrum of activity. If both types are used together, acute toxicity may be enhanced. In herbicides, they interfere with photosynthesis in plants. The thiocarbamates are fungicides and include mancozeb, maneb, thiram and zineb.

Health effects
Many are moderately to highly toxic if swallowed and some may be absorbed through the skin. Symptoms including headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and convulsions, develop rapidly; this decreases the risk of prolonged exposure. Some carbamates are carcinogenic, teratogenic or mutagenic (see Zineb ). Chronic exposure can permanently damage the nervous system. Do not spray on warm surfaces since some will vaporise and can be easily inhaled. Environmental effects Carbamates persist in the soil and groundwater for weeks or months.

See integrated pest management

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