Heptachlor

What is Heptachlor?

Heptachlor (chemical formula: C10H5Cl7), is a divided solid with a camphor-like smell. It is practically insoluble in water, but soluble in most organic solvents and typically sold as a white to tan coloured powder. Because of its highly stable structure, heptachlor can remain in the environment for many decades. The directions for use must be read and understood before due to its severe environmental and health effects.  

What is Heptachlor used for?

Nearly all registered uses of heptachlor have now been canceled due to safety concerns. From 1953 to 1974, it was used as an insecticide to protect corn, pineapples and small grains, as well as control termite infestations. Currently, the only permitted use for heptachlor is to control fire ants in electrical transformers

All uses of Heptachlor have been canceled, except when used for the purpose of controlling fire ants in specific situations
All uses of Heptachlor have been canceled, except when used for the purpose of controlling fire ants in specific situations

Heptachlor Hazards

The routes of exposure for heptachlor include; inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact. 

Inhalation of heptachlor dusts and fumes may produce respiratory discomfort and distress. Heptachlor dusts cause irritability, tremors and collapse as it is a central nervous system depressant.  Those with existing respiratory illnesses such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis may incur further disablement if excessive concentrations of heptachlor are inhaled. People with existing kidney damage must also take extra precaution when handling the material.

Ingestion may lead to toxic effects. Organochlorine pesticides are central nervous system stimulants, with symptoms of ingestion including; a prickling/tingling sensation in the mouth, tongue and lower face, followed by dizziness, abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, mental confusion, weakness, loss of muscle control and tremors. Ingestion of larger amounts of heptachlor can cause convulsions followed by death. Symptoms may occur within 30 minutes to 6 hours following exposure.

Skin contact with the chemical produces moderate skin irritation and inflammation. Dermatitis is also a possibility with symptoms including; redness and swelling which may progress to blistering. More harmful effects result upon absorption into the bloodstream through open cuts or wounds, producing effects on the body’s central nervous system. Symptoms of this include; muscle twitching/jerking, convulsive seizures, headaches, nausea, vomiting, malaise and dizziness. As there are so many toxic effects once the chemical enters the bloodstream, the skin should be examined prior to handling to reduce the risk of this happening. 

Direct eye contact with heptachlor may cause discomfort characterised by redness and tearing. Slight abrasive damage may also result. 

The EPA has classified heptachlor as being a probable human carcinogen.

Heptachlor Safety

If heptachlor is inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source and monitor their breathing. Lay the patient down and keep them warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, perform CPR (preferably with a bag-valve mask device). Seek medical attention without delay. 

If swallowed, give the patient a slurry of three tablespoons of activated charcoal in water. Although inducing vomiting may be recommended, it is normally dissuaded due to the risk of aspiration. If vomiting does occur, lean the patient forward or place them on their left side to maintain open airways and prevent aspiration. Seek medical attention without delay. 

If skin exposure occurs, quickly and gently wipe the chemical off the skin with a dry, clean cloth and remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories. Wash the skin and hair with plenty of running water. Transport to hospital without delay. 

If heptachlor is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water for at least 15 minutes, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by a skilled individual. Transport to hospital without delay.

Heptachlor Safety Handling

Ready access to emergency eyewash fountains should be available in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and local exhaust ventilation must be available where heptachlor is handled as powders or crystals.

The PPE recommended when handling the chemical includes; safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, PVC gloves, overalls, safety footwear/gumboots and half-face filter type respirators.

If you have heptachlor and you are not sure how you can handle it safely, Chemwatch can help. Chemwatch provides chemicals management solutions, including SDS to ensure safety and compliance in your workplace. Contact us at sales@chemwatch.net for more information about what we offer.