Pyrethroids are synthetic derivatives of natural pyrethrins extracted from Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium
. They are 2250 times more toxic to insects than to vertebrates due to insects’ smaller size, lower body temperature and more sensitive sodium channels. In particular, three pyrethroid compounds, namely deltamethrin, permethrin, and alpha-cypermethrin, are commonly used as insecticides and are recommended for in-home insect control because they are considered to be relatively non-toxic to humans in all stages of life. However, recent data show that they are not completely harmless to human health as they may enter the body through skin contact, by inhalation and food or water, and absorption level depending on the type of food. Permethrin seems to have an adverse effect on fertility, the immune system, cardiovascular and hepatic metabolism as well as enzymatic activity. Deltamethrin induces inflammation, nephro- and hepatotoxicity and influences the activity of antioxidant enzymes in tissues. Alpha-cypermethrin may impair immunity and act to increase glucose and lipid levels in blood. The aim of the review is to provide comprehensive information on potential hazards associated to human exposure to deltamethrin, permethrin and alpha-cypermethrin. The results of presented studies prove that the insecticides must be used with great caution.
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