Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biology and Microbiology

First Advisor

Robyn P. Hillman


The objectives of this investigation were to determine the immunotoxic effects of toxaphene exposure in mice after either ingestion or cutaneous absorption. Immunological competence was determined by studying various parameters of nonspecific, humoral, and cell-mediated immunity. These included 1) total and differential white blood cell counts, 2) organ to body weight ratios, 3) hemagglutination antibody titers, 4) the number of antigen-specific antibody-forming cells, and 5) both mitogen- and antigen-induced lymphocyte proliferation assays. The effect of toxaphene exposure on the overall immunoreactivity was determined by noting any alterations in resistance to infection and disease as measured by the LD 50 of mice challenged with a Gram negative bacterial pathogen. The wide range of agricultural applications of toxaphene has resulted in the exposure of humans, livestock, and wildlife to this chlorinated hydrocarbon. Toxaphene is used to control outbreaks of army worms, cut worms, and grasshoppers in cotton, corn, and small grain crops and for sickle pod control in soybeans and peanuts. It is also frequently used as a contact pesticide for livestock ectoparasite control. These uses account for 95 percent of the 16 million pounds of toxaphene used annually. The routes by which this toxic compound may enter the body where it can accumulate and persist in body fat are provided by ingest ion, inhalation, and absorption through the skin. Due to difficulties in analyzing the complex mixture of toxaphene and its degradation products, very little is known about the exact toxaphene residues in people or in the environment. Since toxaphene is fat-soluble, it will accumulate in both animals and fish and can persist for several years in soils and lake sediments. Persistence of toxaphene in the environment presents a constant threat to the health of all warm-blooded animals. Because toxaphene exists as a complex and largely unidentified mixture of isomers, assessing the risks of this substance in the environment is very difficult. Few studies have been conducted examining the toxic effects of toxaphene or of any other pesticide in the polychloroterpene group. LD 50 values have been determined for toxaphene doses which will cause death in 50% of the animals tested but information dealing with the overall effects of subtoxic doses is not available.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Pesticides -- Environmental aspects
Pesticides -- Toxicology
Mice -- Diseases



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State