An inexpensive and rapid bioassay using adult red flour beetles was developed for use in assessing the decontamination of environments containing organophosphates and related chemicals. A decontamination protocol was developed which demonstrated that 2 to 3 applications of 5% bleach solution were required to obtain nearly complete decontamination of malathion. The bioassay was also used to screen common household cleaners as potential decontaminating agents, but only 5% bleach was effective at improving survival of insects on steel plates treated with 25% malathion. A toxic degradation product (malaoxon) was detected using gas chromatography/ mass spectrophotometry; this toxin affected the decontamination efficacy and resulted in continued toxicity to the beetles until subsequent decontaminations. The bioassay provides evidence to support the use of red flour beetles as a sensitive, less expensive method for determining safety levels of environments contaminated with malathion and other toxins, and may have application in the study of chemical warfare agents.
Master of Public Health
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Claborn, David M., Skylar A. Martin-Brown, Sanjay G. Sagar, and Paul Durham. "A rapid and inexpensive bioassay to evaluate the decontamination of organophosphates." Army Medical Department Journal July-September (2012).
Army Medical Department Journal