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Neonicotinoid Pesticides & Adverse Health Outcomes

photo of agricultural corn treated with neonicotinoid seed coatings

Topic Overview

Status: Evaluation completed

Background Information

Neonicotinoid pesticides are a class of chemicals that act as insecticides by exerting neurotoxic effects via irreversible binding to insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Because nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are also present in the nervous systems of mammals, there is concern that neonicotinoids may impact animals other than their insect targets, including humans. These pesticides have been used increasingly in U.S. agriculture since 2005, when the patents expired on seven neonicotinoids making possible the production of generic products. Almost all agricultural corn and ~ 1/3 of soybeans planted in the U.S. in 2013 were treated with neonicotinoid seed coatings. Aside from agricultural uses, neonicotinoids are also used to control pests such as fleas and lice in livestock and domestic pets. Use of noenicitinoids on food crops, environmental persistence, and possible binding to human nicotinic acetylcholine receptors raise concerns for potential adverse human health impacts with chronic low-level exposures.

NTP conducted a scoping review to identify the extent of publicly available evidence on potential human health effects of seven neonicotinoid pesticides (acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam). A limited body of evidence was identified for use in hazard assessment, primarily due to differences between health outcomes assessed across the published studies. This scoping review by design summarizes publicly available scientific literature and does not include any proprietary studies available to EPA, which likely contain relevant toxicological data that would complement these data and allow for more comprehensive health hazard assessment.


Documents for Neonicotinoid Pesticides
Date Document
Sep 25, 2020 NTP Research Report (Abstract)
Preferred Citation: Boyd WA, Boyles AL, Blain RB, Skuce CR, Engstrom AK, Walker VR, Thayer KA, Rooney AA. 2020. NTP research report on the scoping review of potential human health effects associated with exposures to neonicotinoid pesticides. Research Triangle Park, NC: National Toxicology Program. Research Report 15.
Nov 01, 2017 NTP Protocol
Oct 07, 2015 Federal Register notice (PDF HTML)

Public Comments

Public Comments for Neonicotinoid Pesticides
Date Received Commenter(s) Affiliation In Response To
Nov 06, 2015 Robert Hamilton Valent U.S.A. Corporation Oct 07, 2015 Federal Register notice
Nov 06, 2015 Carroll M. Moseley, Ph.D. Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. Oct 07, 2015 Federal Register notice
Nov 06, 2015 Jim J. Tozzi The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness Oct 07, 2015 Federal Register notice
Nov 06, 2015 Ray S. McAllister CropLife America Oct 07, 2015 Federal Register notice
Jan 05, 2016 Jennifer Sass, Ph.D. Natural Resources Defense Council Oct 07, 2015 Federal Register notice
Jan 08, 2016 Eric Chivian, M.D. Harvard University Oct 07, 2015 Federal Register notice

Note on Accessibility: Persons with disabilities or using assistive technology may find some documents are not fully accessible. For assistance, email us or use our contact form and identify the documents/pages for which access is required. We will assist you in accessing the content of these files. NIEHS has helpful information on accessibility.