A farmer applies pesticides to their field
Aqua Mechanical/Flickr

Common insecticide may be toxic to mammals’ ovaries

According to a new study published in Biology of Reproduction, a popular class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids are likely harmful to the ovaries of mice and potentially other mammals.

In short:

  • For the first time, this study shows that ovaries in mice do have receptors capable of interacting with neonicotinoids and their toxic byproducts.
  • These byproducts impacted the health of the ovaries and affected hormone production.

Key quote:

“Neonicotinoids have become the most popular class of pesticides in the world, largely because they are considered insect selective.”

Why this matters:

Neonicotinoids are widely used not only for commercial agriculture but also for more personal uses like home gardens and in some flea and tick treatments for pets. Because of this, humans are regularly exposed to neonicotinoids through the environment, food and water. Neonicotinoids’ popularity partly comes from the belief that its harmful effects are mostly limited to insects, but studies like this one highlight the possibility that other animals - including humans - could be harmed by the chemical as well.

Related EHN coverage:

More resources:

For more on the potential hazards of neonicotinoids, you can watch the recording of the Silent Spring 2.0: Adverse Impacts of Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Human and Wildlife Health symposium, hosted by The Chicago Center for Health and Environment and co-sponsored by Environmental Health Sciences and HEEDS. The symposium features presentations from experts including Dr. Jodi Flaws, who leads the lab that conducted this study.

Mourikes, Vasiliki et al. for Biology of Reproduction. May 7, 2024

About the author(s):

Katherine McMahon
Katherine McMahon
Katherine McMahon is a Science Administrative Assistant at Environmental Health Sciences.
Sarah Howard
Sarah Howard
Howard is the Program Manager at the Healthy Environment and Endocrine Disruptor Strategies (HEEDS), a program of Environmental Health Sciences.

You Might Also Like


Top environmental health news from around the world.

Environmental Health News

Your support of EHN, a newsroom powered by Environmental Health Sciences, drives science into public discussions. When you support our work, you support impactful journalism. It all improves the health of our communities. Thank you!

coconut oil

Phthalate chemicals found in popular coconut oils

New testing finds traces of the toxics in all seven coconut oils tested.