Contact Information

  • Timothy D. Foley
  • Professor
  • Chemistry
  • Univ. of Scranton
  • Scranton, PA 18510
(570) 941 - 7511

Biochemical Toxicology of Insecticides: The Road towards Reduced-Risk Insecticides

Module Description

Author Contact:


Toxicity of various insecticides are described with reference to their specific mode of biological action. Organochlorine based insecticides are presented with information describing synaptic transmission pathways and how the compounds disrupt normal performance. Similarly, organophosphorous insecticides are described in the context of normal and abnormal acetylcholinesterase function. Undesired detrimental effects to wildlife are discussed in each case. Bisacylhydrazine insecticides are presented as a less toxic alternative with description of precise targeting of the cuticle molting process, specific to insects. Bisacylhydrazine alternatives are presented under the title of "reduced risk," rather than "safe" and concerns over currently unknown safety issues are presented. Mitochondrial dysfunction, alteration in cytochrome P450 monooxygenase and hormonal disruption are all described and queried as possible sources for concern with respect to incompletely established hazards of these new insecticide compounds.

The module is appropriate for a biochemical toxicology course covering insecticides and includes descriptions of all biological pathways mentioned, "Notes to Instructors," seven questions and a brief PowerPoint presentation.

Summary prepared July 2005 by Dr. S. Adam O'Neil, Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts.


Foley, T. D. Biochemical Toxicology of Insecticides: The Road towards Reduced-Risk Insecticides. faculty/ CANNM1/ toxicology.html (accessed June 2011).

Category Descriptors

Chemistry Concepts
  • Toxicology
Green Chemistry Principles
  • Design Safer Chemicals and Products
  • Minimize the Potential for Accidents
Chemistry Subdiscipline
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
Target Audience
  • Colleges/Universities
  • Internet Sources