RIVM provides background information to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) about the toxicity of the substance fipronil and its possible health effects . This is general information about the substance itself, and the available information about possible short-term and long-term health effects. RIVM has based this information on scientific publications about fipronil and reports by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

About fipronil

Fipronil is a substance that is used in veterinary medicines to combat fleas, mites and ticks in dogs and cats. Fipronil is not permitted for use in animals that are intended for the food chain, such as chickens. In Europe, fipronil is also authorised for use as plant protection product in products for seed treatment. In the Netherlands, there is one product on the market to protect certain plant seeds against damage caused by insects. Furthermore, in the Netherlands, a biocidal product based on fipronil is authorised for use by professional companies for the control of cockroaches. These companies may only use this biocidal product in areas where there are no humans or animals. See also the website of the Board for the Authorisation of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb).

Health effects

The harmful effects of fipronil have been described by, among others, the European Food Safety  Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This information is based primarily on animal studies. Adverse effects on the nervous system were observed after short-term exposure in laboratory animals. Long-term exposure to fipronil can also cause damage to the liver, thyroid gland and kidneys. Harmful effects on the nervous system have also been observed in the form of epileptic seizures. Fipronil is not carcinogenic. Fipronil has no known harmful effects on reproduction or unborn babies. From the few cases of poisoning in people that have been described, such as deliberate overdoses, it is known that fipronil can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness and epileptic seizures. In general these effects will disappear. In the case of long-term exposure to fipronil the risk on health effects is greater because of the accumulation of the substance. Pregnant women and unborn children are not at greater risk compared to the general population.

Further information

For information about fipronil in the eggs that have been seized and the measures that are being taken please contact the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Consumers and companies can contact the Customer Contact Centre via the NVWA website or on phone number 0900-03 88.