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Carbofuran is one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides and is most often marketed under the trade names Furadan and Curater. It is extremely toxic to birds, fish, and bees. In 2008 the US EPA moved to revoke registration of carbofuran, effectively banning its use in agriculture (EPA carbofuran).

Just the facts

Physical Information

Name: Carbofuran

Use: pesticide

Source: synthetic chemistry

Recommended daily intake: none

Absorption: dermal, ingestion

Sensitive individuals: all

Toxicity/symptoms: highly toxic

Regulatory facts:

General facts:



Chemical Structure

Structure retreived from PAN
2,3-dihydro-2,2-dimethyl-7-benzofuranyl methylcarbamate

Chemical Description

Carbofuran is a white crystelline solid at room temperature after a phenolic odor.


Carbofuran is used sparingly in the US. Is applied directly onto soil around plants after their emergence to control beetles, nematodes, and rootworm. It is used most often on alfalfa and rice and was once used on corn, though that use has been terminated.

Health Effects

It is an acutely toxic carbamate pesticide. From #EXTOXNET PIP:
"As with other carbamate compounds, carbofuran's cholinesterase-inhibiting effect is short-term and reversible. Symptoms of carbofuran poisoning include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, sweating, diarrhea, excessive salivation, weakness, imbalance, blurring of vision, breathing difficulty, increased blood pressure, and incontinence. Death may result at high doses from respiratory system failure associated with carbofuran exposure. Complete recovery from an acute poisoning by carbofuran, with no long-term health effects, is possible if exposure ceases and the victim has time to regain their normal level of cholinesterase and to recover from symptoms."

It is not been shown to be a Carcinogens or have any teratogenic effects but chronix exposure can damage the nervous and reproductive systems (EPA).

Environmental Effects

Carbofuran is soluble in water and is moderately persistent in the environment and it is highly toxic to birds, aquatic organisms, and other organisms including bees (#EXTOXNET PIP).

"Millions" bird kill-offs have been a result of granular carbofuran for the past 40 years and were the main driving force behind the movement to cancel use of the pesticide (


Regulation of carbofuran began in 1974 when Congress passed the Safe Drinking Act which required the Environmental Protection Agency to determine safe levels of chemicals in drinking water called "Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG)" (#EPA). The MCLG level for carbofuran was initially set at 40 ppb. It is still at this level because many feel that it is the lowest possible level capable of removal from a water source.

In 1994, the EPA banned all use of the granule form of carbofuran because birds eat the granules, which are highly toxic to birds, and large scale bird kills were being observed. There is no ban on liquid carbofuran and both it and granular carbofuran are classified as Restricted Use Pesticides and carbofuran formulations are rated anywhere from "moderately toxic" to "highly toxic" (#EXTOXNET PIP).

Then, in August of 2006, the EPA proposed cancellation of all forms of carbofuran.

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