Pesticides Detected in Lanolin

<i> From Times staff and wire service reports </i>

Researchers report they have found traces of cancer-causing pesticides in lanolin, an ointment base derived from sheep wool and used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and body creams.

In a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Assn., the researchers said they are particularly concerned about the finding because lanolin-based ointments are “frequently used to treat sore, cracked nipples in breast-feeding mothers,” and nursing babies may swallow the toxins.

The researchers had the Food and Drug Administration analyze two lots of lanolin produced by one U.S. manufacturer. The check showed that the pesticides Diazinon, DDE--a breakdown product from DDT--lindane and BHC were present in one or both samples.


Two additional lanolin lots were analyzed by the Environmental Protection Agency and showed traces of the pesticides Chlorpyrifos, dieldrin, lindane, DDE and Diazinon.

Sheldon Wagner, a professor of clinical toxicology at Oregon State University and one of the authors of the letter, said no government agency checks for pesticide residues in lanolin, a basic skin moisturizing ingredient in many widely used lotions and creams.

Wagner said the levels of pesticides found in the lanolin are not high enough to cause any immediate sickness, but noted that they may be stored and build up over long periods of time in the fatty tissues of humans or sheep.