Skip to main content

Learn about 17 of the most dangerous, widely used organophosphate pesticides in the U.S.

Malathion

ma-luh-thai-uhn

High residues found on basil. Registered as a U.S. pesticide in 1956. Reregistered in 2006. Currently under registration review.

Overview

Malathion is used in 28 states.

Map of where the organophosphate pesticide malathion is used in the 48 contiguous United States.

Malathion is used in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

Data is not available for Alaska, D.C., Hawaiʻi, and U.S. Territories. Data represents the most recent year available from USGS. Details.

See detailed maps of malathion usage by state and county.

Human Health Effects

Even at low levels of exposure, malathion can lead to serious negative health effects.

Cancer

Neurodevelopmental Harm

Reproductive Toxicity

High Risk Exposure Routes

People are exposed to malathion through food and drinking water, even if they don’t live near areas where pesticides are sprayed. Details.

Food and/or Drinking Water

Occupational Field WorkersPeople performing post-application activities in previously treated fields, but do not directly apply pesticides themselves. Details.

Occupational HandlersPeople involved in pesticide application process. Details.

Residential

Residential BystanderPeople who live near areas where pesticides are applied. Details.

Spray Drift

Wide Area Public Pest Control

High Residue Foods

Where residue levels of malathion exceeded allowable limits or were not legally allowed to have residues.Details.

Basil

Percentage of Crops

Malathion is applied on food widely grown and consumed in the United States.

Caneberries (70%)

Strawberries (55%)

Blueberries (40%)

Celery (30%)

Cherries (25%)

Tangerines (25%)

Registered Uses

Where EPA allows malathion to be used.

Agricultural Crops: alfalfa, fruit and vegetables, orchards and grapes

Outdoor Mosquito Adulticide

Outdoor Residential Use on Gardens / Orchards / Ornamentals / Lawns

Additional Information

Estimated Use of Malathion on Crops

Most recent agricultural crop usage data as provided by the U.S. Geographical Survey’s Pesticide National Synthesis Project. Does not reflect universal usage of malathion. (How do EPest-low and EPest-high differ?)

EPest-low

EPest-low: Estimated use in millions of pounds of malathion by year and crop.
USGS

EPest-high

EPest-high: Estimated use in millions of pounds of malathion by year and crop.
USGS

U.S. Tolerances Categories & Commodities for Malathion

The U.S. EPA sets maximum residue limits — known as “tolerances” — on the amount of malathion that may remain in and on foods. The tolerance is the residue level that triggers enforcement actions.

Tolerances have been set for malathion for: Agricultural Commodities and Milk Eggs Meat and/or Poultry. Maximum residue limits have been set for malathion by the U.S. EPA for the following commodities:

Alfalfa
Almond
Apple
Apricot
Asparagus
Avocado
Barley
Beans
Beet
Blackberry
Blueberry
Boysenberry
Carrot
Cattle
Chayote
Cherry
Chestnut
Clover
Corn
Cotton
Cowpea
Cranberry
Cucumber
Currant
Date
Dewberry
Egg
Eggplant
Fig
Flaxseed
Garlic
Goat
Grass
Hazelnut
Hog
Hop
Horse
Horseradish
Kumquat
Leafy Vegetables
Leek
Lemon
Lentil
Lespedeza
Lime
Loganberry
Lupin
Macadamia Nut
Mango
Melon
Milk
Mushroom
Nectarine
Oat
Okra
Onion
Orange
Papaya
Parsnip
Passionfruit
Pea
Peach
Peanut
Pear
Pecan
Pepper
Peppermint
Pineapple
Plum
Potato
Poultry
Pumpkin
Quince
Radish
Raspberry
Rice
Rutabaga
Rye
Safflower
Salsify
Shallot
Sheep
Sorghum
Soybean
Spearmint
Squash
Strawberry
Sunflower seed
Sweet Potato
Tangerine
Tomato
Trefoil
Turnip
Vetch
Walnut
Watercress
Wheat

U.S. EPA Human Health Risk Assessments for Malathion

Human Health Risk Assessments are conducted by the U.S. EPA to estimate the nature and probability of harmful health effects in people who may be exposed to pesticide. They are used to make informed decisions about approving new pesticides and new uses of registered pesticides, and during our regular review of existing pesticides. Read the assessment for malathion.

Learn about 17 of the most dangerous, widely used organophosphate pesticides in the U.S.