Bug Scout 1982
Chemical Safety Starts with Mice and Men
(Tom Turpin, Entomologist, Purdue University)
How was I to know that this rodent was the only survivor of your insecticide toxicity test?
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October 2, 1982

Don't underestimate the value of rats and mice!  As farm pests they are quite undesirable.  As laboratory animals the can be used to estimate the toxicity of agricultural chemicals to humans.  This information is necessary to determine safety precautions needed when handling toxic chemicals.

The benchmark for measuring the toxicity of a compound is LD50.  An LD50 is the dosage required to kill 50% of the test animals.  Lethal doses can be based on oral or dermal exposure, depending on how the chemical was administered to the animals.

Lethal dose information is used to determine the signal words required on pesticide labels.  These signal words - caution, warning, or danger - indicate the toxicity of the pesticide.

The next time you look at the toxicity of a pesticide, remember that mice and men might have more in common than you thought!

by Tom Turpin, Entomologist, Purdue University

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