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What is Cypermethrin?

By Melissa Kelly

Cypermethrin is a neurotoxin that rapidly kills insects by affecting their central nervous system. The chemical is commonly found in household and outdoor insecticides, such as Raid, Ammo and Demon, among others.


Cypermethrin is a man-made compound that was first created in 1974. Since that time, it has become a popular choice for controlling moth pests on plants as well as spot treatments in a variety of industrial environments.


The Environmental Protection Agency classifies several products that contain cypermethrin as restricted-use pesticides (RUP) because of its toxicity potential. Depending upon the specific product, it can be classified as moderately toxic (Class 2) or slightly toxic (Class 3).

Exposure to Animals

When animals come into contact with cypermethrin, they quickly begin to have central nervous system complications and may quickly die. For example, in laboratory testing cockroaches began to experience paralysis, restlessness and incoordination with exposure to cypermethrin.

Exposure to Humans

Humans experience drastically different symptoms than small animals and insects when exposed to cypermethrin. When handled by people, cypermethrin can lead to tingling, dizziness, itching or burning. It is also rapidly excreted by the body and is therefore unlikely to build up with repeated exposure.

Environmental Impact

Breakdown of cypermethin in soil can range from two to eight weeks depending upon the ground's composition. It does not lead to groundwater contamination because the chemical does not readily move around in soil. It is, however, highly toxic to fish upon exposure.


About the Author


Melissa Kelly is a freelance writer from Indianapolis who focuses on scientific and medical topics. Kelly attended Marian College where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. Recently, she completed her Master's in business communications & project management.