chemical information


Chemical Class:

Organochlorine Pesticide (OC)

Manufacturing/Use Status

use/production has been voluntarily discontinued in the U.S.

Found in these people:

Sharyle Patton, Baby #10, Baby #6, Baby #7, Baby #5, Kathy Fowler, Baby #2, Baby #3, Baby #9, Baby #4, Baby #1, Anonymous Adult 1, Baby #8, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter, Sara Corbett

Found in these locations:

Bolinas, CA; Rockville, MD; Upstate New York, NY; NY, USA


In humans, lindane poisoning can cause death; convulsions; seizures; muscle weakness; nose and throat irritation; gastrointestinal effects (vomiting, nausea, diarrhea); progressive renal failure and possibly anemia. Occupational exposure to lindane has been associated with blood abnormalities (including altered white blood cell count) and abnormal electroencephalographic (EEG) patterns. Endocrine effects include increased luteinizing hormone. Exposure to lindane may also play a role in development of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Whole body exposure to lindane (because it is used as a scabicide) resulted in death to a 2-month-old child; autopsy revealed signs of pulmonary and cardiovascular toxicity. Non-lethal dermal exposure to lindane can result in rashes; anemia and bone marrow hyperplasia.

Exposure to technical HCH (which is a mixture of HCH isomers) has been associated with electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities; altered liver enzymes; increased immunoglobulin M (formed in almost every immune response); numbness, prickling or tingling feelings in the face; headache and vertigo (ATSDR 1994c).

In laboratory animals, lindane exposure causes neurotoxicity (sedation, agitation, loss of muscle coordination, altered brain serotonin and dopamine, convulsions, seizures, decreased brain myelin); dermatitis; cellular effects on the skin; liver toxicity (altered enzyme levels, altered carbohydrate metabolism, lipid peroxidation); kidney/renal toxicity (cancer, increased kidney weight, cellular changes); hematological effects (decrease in marrow progenitor cell numbers); immunotoxicity (decreased thymus and spleen weight, altered cell and humoral-mediated immune system) and lung toxicity (tumors); rapid respiration, wheezing. Reproductive and developmental effects include decreased testicular and epididymis weight; decreased testosterone, decreased sperm production; cellular effects in the testes; decreased ovulation rate; increased length of female rat reproductive cycle (estrous cycle). Many of the male reproductive effects were observed following perinatal exposure. Other effects observed in animals exposed during development include altered brain noradrenalin and serotonin and decreased thymus weight (ATSDR 1994c).

Exposure to technical HCH (a mixture of HCH isomers) causes decreased body weight; liver toxicity (liver tumors, increased liver weight, cellular effects, altered enzyme levels, glycogen accumulation); kidney/renal toxicity (cellular effects); neurological effects (altered levels of the brain neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, increased motor activity, increased brain wave frequency, convulsions, tremors, hind limb paralysis, salivation) and decreased white blood cell count. Reproductive and developmental effects include male reproductive toxicity (altered testes and vas deferens weight, cellular effects of the testes and vas deferens); increased fetal resorptions and altered levels of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenalin in young rats (ATSDR 1994c).

gamma-BHC (Lindane)

Organochlorine chemical, a class largely banned in the U.S. that builds up in the body over time, linked to cancer and reproductive harm.

gamma-BHC (Lindane) has been found in 17 of the 27 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.

Top health concerns for gamma-BHC (Lindane) (References)

health concern or target organ weight of evidence
Reproduction and fertilityunknown

Results for gamma-BHC (Lindane)

in blood serum (lipid weight)

Showing results from EWG/Commonweal Study #1, industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults, San Francisco Reporter, EWG/Commonweal Study #4, industrial chemicals and pesticides in cord blood, EWG Study #8, chemicals in mother and 2 children, EWG Study #3, industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: 0.104 ng/g (lipid weight) in blood serum
  • found in 17 of 27 people in the group
ng/g (lipid weight) in blood serum 0.995

gamma-BHC (Lindane) results

Detailed toxicity classifications (References)

classification governing entity/references
Reproductive effects - weight of evidence unknown/unassessedDamgaard, I. N., N. E. Skakkebaek, et al. (2006). Persistent pesticides in human breast milk and cryptorchidism. Environ Health Perspect 114(7): 1133-8.