Toxno Substance Profile
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Substance Name

Zinc phosphide
Identification Number: CASRN | 1314-84-7

  Substance Attributes


  • Metabolic Interference or Disruption

    Interferes with human metabolism. This can be a very serious thing. Some of these interference mechanics are well established. However, often long term effects and health consequences remain largely unknown. Additionally an emerging area of concern and one that is not currently studied, is the combined synergistic effects these metabolically disrupting chemicals have on human health.


    Metabolic interference happens when the substance produces highly reactive and often damaging intermediates during detoxification or when the substance binds to specific enzymes, important structural groups on molecules, receptors and membranes or targets DNA or mimics key nutrients.

  • Exposure Produces Health Symptoms

    Symptoms maybe short term or long term depending on the exposure duration and intensity and effects areas like Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Cognition, Fatigue. A substance with this attribute may cause an allergic skin reaction, serious eye irritation, allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled.

  • Serious Acute Effects

    This is a serious nasty substance. Effects are Acute (seen immediately). Substances in this category may be FATAL or acutely toxic if inhaled, skin contact or swallowed. See further details.

  • Toxic to Wildlife

    May kill plants, fish, birds or other animals and insects or may be very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. This then effects delicate environmental ecology and food supply in ways we don't fully understand yet.

These attributes are ONLY based on peer-reviewed evidence. See link to Data Sources below. Everyone benefits from knowing this stuff. Please Share.



  • CATEGORIES: Pesticide | Household Toxin | Synthetic Toxin | PESTICIDE active ingredient | Rodenticide | Pesticide or Plant Growth Regulator Approved in Australia | Pesticide approved in USA (California) | Pesticide approved or pending approval in EU | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace
  • SUBSTANCE LINEAGE: Inorganic Compounds | Mixed Metal/Non-metal Compounds | Transition Metal Salts | | Miscellaneous Mixed Metal/Non-Metals
  • SYNONYMS: Trizinc diphosphate | Zn3P2
  • DESCRIPTION: Zinc phosphide is a phosphide of zinc. It is used as a rodenticide. Zinc is a metallic element with the atomic number 30. It is found in nature most often as the mineral sphalerite. Though excess zinc in harmful, in smaller amounts it is an essential element for life, as it is a cofactor for over 300 enzymes and is found in just as many transcription factors. Metal phosphides are hydrolysed to phosphine upon contact with water or stomach acid. Phosphine is a colorless, flammable, explosive, and toxic gas. (L980, L48, L49, L75)
  • COMMENTS: Residues of this pesticide are tested for on Australian Foods | Pesticide approved in Australia

    From Safe Work Australia and the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) in Australia:

    In contact with water releases flammable gases which may ignite spontaneously. Fatal if swallowed. Very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. | Environmental Hazard Acutely Toxic | A Hazardous Substance that may be found in the Australian Workplace. Check with your employer or health and safety officer. Stay informed and become aware of the dangers that surround you. This chemical is included on the list of recognised hazardous chemicals from the Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) that is based on the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

    Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations are the basis for hazardous chemicals regulations in Commonwealth, State and Territory jurisdictions in Australia. Under the model WHS Regulations, manufacturers and importers of substances, mixtures and articles supplied for use in workplaces are required to determine whether they are hazardous to health and safety before supply. The model WHS Regulations mandate that the hazards of a chemical as determined by the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) must be included in safety data sheets and on labels. There are transitional arrangements in place for moving to the GHS-based system.

    The GHS Hazardous Chemical Information List contains chemicals classified by an authoritative source (such as the European Commission or NICNAS) in accordance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (the GHS). This list contains the vast majority of chemicals currently in HSIS. This list and its detail are regularly updated by Work Safe Australia. The model Work Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations require chemicals to be classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). However transitional arrangements allow use of classification information in HSIS derived from the Approved Criteria until the 31 December 2016.
  • toxin chemical structure pubchem
  • FORMULA: P2Zn3
  • DATA SOURCES: DATA SOURCES: ARTICLE 4 | T3DB | PubChem | Compendium of Pesticide Common Names | APVMA | DPR | EU Pesticides | Safe Work Australia - Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)
  • LAST UPDATE: 28/04/2018

  Health Associations

Mostly focused on Health Implications of Long Term Exposure to this substance

  • SYMPTOMS: Ingestion of large doses of zinc causes stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Acute inhalation of large amounts of zinc causes metal fume fever, which is characterized by chills, fever, headache, weakness, dryness of the nose and throat, chest pain, and coughing. Dermal contact with zinc results in skin irritation. Early symptoms of acute phosphine intoxication include pain in the diaphragm, nausea, vomiting, excitement, and a phosphorus smell on the breath. Higher levels can cause weakness, bronchitis, pulmonary edema, shortness of breath, convulsions, and death. Some effects, such as pulmonary edema, convulsions, and liver injury, may appear or continue to be present days after an exposure. Ingestion of metal phosphides results in release of phosphine in your stomach which can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. (L980, L49)
  • POSSIBLE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES: Chronic exposure to zinc causes anemia, atazia, lethargy, and decreases the level of good cholesterol in the body. It is also believed to cause pancreatic and reproductive damage. Inhalation of phosphine may cause severe pulmonary irritation leading to acute pulmonary oedema, cardiovascular dysfunction, CNS excitation, coma and death. Gastrointestinal disorders, renal damage and leukopenia may also occur. Chronic exposure to phosphine can result in anemia, bronchitis, gastrointestinal effects, and visual, speech and motor problems. (L980, L982, L49) | Zinc can enter the body through the lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. Intestinal absorption of zinc is controlled by zinc carrier protein CRIP. Zinc also binds to metallothioneins, which help prevent absorption of excess zinc. Zinc is widely distributed and found in all tissues and tissues fluids, concentrating in the liver, gastrointestinal tract, kidney, skin, lung, brain, heart, and pancreas. In the bloodstream zinc is found bound to carbonic anhydrase in erythrocytes, as well as bound to albumin, macroglobulin, and amino acids in the the plasma. Albumin and amino acid bound zinc can diffuse across tissue membranes. Zinc is excreted in the urine and faeces. Phosphine and metal phosphides may be absorbed following ingestion or inhalation, then distribute to the nervous system, liver, and kidney. In the body, metal phosphides are hydrolysed to phosphine, and phosphine is oxidized to hypophosphite and phosphite. Metabolites are excreted in the urine, while unchanged phosphine is exhaled. (L982, L49)
  • ACTION OF TOXIN: Anaemia results from the excessive absorption of zinc suppressing copper and iron absorption, most likely through competitive binding of intestinal mucosal cells. Unbalanced levels of copper and zinc binding to Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase has been linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Stomach acid dissolves metallic zinc to give corrosive zinc chloride, which can cause damage to the stomach lining. Metal fume fever is thought to be an immune response to inhaled zinc. Phosphine inhibits cytochrome c oxidase, preventing mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. This non-competitive inhibition prevents cellular respiration and leads to multi-organ dysfunction. Phosphine can also react with hydrogen peroxide to form the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, which can cause lipid peroxidation. (A291, A292, L48, L49, A49) | Unbalanced levels of copper and zinc binding to Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase has been linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). (A49)
  • TOXIN SITES OF ACTION IN CELL: "Cytoplasm", "Extracellular"
  • Additional Exposure Routes: Zinc phosphide is used as a rodenticide. (L75)

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  Exposure Routes

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