A Comparison of the Toxicity of Synergized and Technical Formulations of Permethrin, Sumithrin, and Resmethrin to Trout

  • E. A. PaulEmail author
  • H. A. Simonin
  • T. M. Tomajer


Synthetic pyrethroids often have synergists added to improve effectiveness, yet decisions regarding the use of these pesticides are often based upon toxicity tests using technical material without the synergist, piperonyl butoxide. We conducted toxicity tests with brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and brown trout (Salmo trutta) to compare the toxicity of synergized and technical formulations of permethrin, sumithrin, and resmethrin. We found a significant increase in toxicity in the synergized permethrin formulation using traditional 24, 48, and 96-h tests, relative to tests with the technical formulation. However, there was little difference in toxicity between synergized and technical sumithrin until 48 h had elapsed. Many test fish were strongly intoxicated by either formulation of permethrin or sumithrin, but the synergized formulations of both chemicals affected fish at lower concentrations. Intoxication was potentially severe enough to reduce the survival of these fish in the wild. Following short (6-h) exposures, we also found a larger difference in the number of fish that died or became intoxicated between the synergized and technical formulations of permethrin and sumithrin. Finally, we tested the ability of exposed fish to swim against a current. Fish exposed for 6 h to synergized permethrin and resmethrin had far less swimming stamina than those exposed to technical formulations. We found no difference in the effect on swimming between the synergized and technical formulation of sumithrin. In general, the synergized formulations of these chemicals appeared to cause a faster response than the technical formulations. This response increases the lethal and sublethal impacts of the insecticides. We also found that sumithrin was the least toxic of the three pyrethroids. Since the maximum application rate of sumithrin is half that of the other two pyrethroids, the potential risk to wild trout in streams may be reduced.


West Nile Virus Brown Trout Brook Trout Post Feeding Swimming Performance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 6NYCRR (1998) Title 6 (Environmental Conservation) of New York’s Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations (6NYCRR) Part 326 Restricted Pesticides, Section 326.14 General Requirements for Pesticide Product Registration, amended 11/13/1998Google Scholar
  2. 40 CFR Part 158 (2002) United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Protection of Environment, Chapter I—Environmental Protection Agency, Part 158—Data Requirements for Registration, Subpart D, Data Requirement Tables, revised as of July 1, 2002Google Scholar
  3. Bachman, RA 1984Foraging behavior of free-ranging wild and hatchery brown trout in a streamTrans Am Fish Soc113132Google Scholar
  4. Brett, JR, Glass, NR 1964The respiratory metabolism and swimming performance of young sockeye salmonJ Fish Res Bd Can2111831226Google Scholar
  5. Casida, JE 1980Pyrethrum flowers and pyrethroid insecticidesEnviron Health Perspect34189202Google Scholar
  6. Coats, JR, O’Donnell-Jeffery, NL 1979Toxicity of four synthetic pyrethroid insecticides to rainbow troutBull Environ Contam Toxicol23250255Google Scholar
  7. Colquhoun, JR, Simonin, HA, Dean, HJ, Symula, J 1984Swimming performance of juvenile brown trout exposed to acutely sublethal concentrations of naledN Y Fish Game J31133137Google Scholar
  8. Dean HJ, Ford ME (1983) Final programmatic environmental impact statement on Northern New York black fly and mosquito control. Town of Webb, Old Forge, NYGoogle Scholar
  9. Demoute, J-P 1989A brief review of the environmental fate and metabolism of pyrethroidsPestic Sci27375385Google Scholar
  10. Erickson, DA, Goodrich, MS, Lech, JJ 1988The effect of piperonyl butoxide on hepatic cytochrome P-450-dependent monooxygenase activities in rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri)Toxicol Appl Pharmacol94110Google Scholar
  11. Finney, DJ 1978Statistical method in biological assay3Charles Griffin and Co LtdLondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Hamilton, MA, Russo, RC, Thurston, RV 1977Trimmed Spearman-Karber method for estimating median lethal concentrationsEnviron Sci Tech11714719Google Scholar
  13. Hynes, HBN 1970The ecology of running watersUniversity of Toronto PressOntarioGoogle Scholar
  14. Johnson WW, Finley MT (1980) Handbook of acute toxicity of chemicals to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Resource Publication 137, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  15. Jolly, AL, Avault, JW, Koonce, KL, Graves, JB 1978Acute toxicity of permethrin to several aquatic animalsTrans Am Fish Soc107825827Google Scholar
  16. Kumaraguru, AK, Beamish, FWH 1981Lethal toxicity of permethrin (NRDC-143) to rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneri, in relation to body weight and water temperatureWater Res15503505Google Scholar
  17. Kumaraguru, AK, Beamish, FWH 1983Bioenergetics of acclimation to permethrin (NRDC-143) by rainbow troutComp Biochem Physiol75C247252Google Scholar
  18. Kutka, FJ 1994Low pH effects on swimming activity of Ambystoma salamander larvaeEnviron Toxicol Chem1318211824Google Scholar
  19. McLeese, DW, Metcalfe, CD, Zitko, V 1980Lethality of permethrin, cypermethrin and fenvalerate to salmon, lobster and shrimpBull Environ Contam Toxicol25950955Google Scholar
  20. Mendenhall, W 1975Introduction to probability and statistics, 4th edDuxbury PressNorth Scituate, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  21. Miyamoto, J 1976Degradation, metabolism and toxicity of synthetic pyrethroidsEnviron Health Perspect141528Google Scholar
  22. Office of Pesticide Programs (1995) Environmental Effects Database (EEDB) Environmental Fate and Effects Division, US EPA, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  23. Paul EA (1997) Water quality and reference toxicant testing: a quality assurance report on toxicity testing conducted by the aquatic toxicant research unit at the Rome Field Station. NYSDEC, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Habitat Technical Report, August 15, 1997Google Scholar
  24. Paul, EA, Simonin, HA 1995Comparison of the toxicity of a synergized and non-synergized insecticide to young troutBull Environ Contam Toxicol55453460Google Scholar
  25. Paul, EA, Simonin, HA 1996The effects of naled, synergized, and non-synergized resmethrin on the swimming performance of young troutBull Environ Contam Toxicol57495502Google Scholar
  26. Peterson, JL, Jepson, PC, Jenkins, JJ 2001Effects of varying pesticide exposure duration and concentration on the toxicity of carbaryl to two field-collected stream invertebrates, Calineuria californica (Plecoptera: Perlidae) and Cinygma sp. (Ephemeroptera: Heptageniidae)Environ Toxicol Chem2022152223Google Scholar
  27. Schimmel, SC, Garnas, RL, Patrick, JM, Moore, JC 1983Acute toxicity, bioconcentration, and persistence of AC 222,705, Benthiocarb, Chlorpyrifos, fenvalerate, methyl parathion, and permethrin in the estuarine environmentJ Agricult Food Chem31104113Google Scholar
  28. Sprague JB, Fogels A (1977) Watch the Y in bioassay. Proceedings of 3rd Aquatic Toxicity Workshop, Halifax, NS, Nov. 2–3, 1976. Environmental Protection Service technical report no. EPS-5-AR-77-1, 107–118Google Scholar
  29. West, Inc, Gulley DD (1996) TOXSTAT® Version 3.5. West Inc, Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc., Cheyenne, WYGoogle Scholar
  30. WHO (1989) Resmethrins. Environmental Health Criteria 92. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  31. WHO (1990) d-Phenothrin. Environmental Health Criteria 96. World Health Organization, Geneva Google Scholar
  32. Woodward, DF, Little, EE, Smith, LM 1987Toxicity of five shale oils to fish and aquatic invertebratesArch Environ Contam Toxicol16239246Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New York State Department of Environmental ConservationRomeUSA
  2. 2.Bureau of HabitatNew York State Department of Environmental ConservationAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations