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At least since the 1940s fluoroacetate is known as one of the most toxic substances anywhere (i.e. Thiemann, 1949; Saunders & Stacy, 1949; Hodge, 1949, etc.).

Compound 1080

Compound 1080 is sodium fluoroacetate. Since 1972 it has been illegal to spray Compound 1080 in the U.S., where it had been used widely as a rodent and coyote killer. However, it is still widely used in other countries such as New Zealand, or Australia where it is used to kill rabbits. In the US so-called live-stock-prevention (LSP) collars are also still in use.


Fluoroacetate is also a metabolite of many other fluorinated pesticides and other organic fluoride compounds, such as those used in anesthetics (i.e. halothane, evoflurane, etc), or 5-fluorouracil, an agent given in cancer (chemo-therapy) treatment.

Its use has been investigated and employed even in chemical warfare agents. It is the toxic breakdown product of organophosphates.

Fluoroacetate is formed in certain plants (i.e. Acacia georginae, Dichapetalum cymosum, Dichapetalum toxicarum, Gastrolobium grandiflorum, Oxylobium parviflorum, Palicourea margravii) after fluoride uptake from soil, water or air.

This has resulted in many serious cases of livestock poisoning and high stock losses (Oelrichs & McEwan, 1962).

Poisoning has also occurred in field workers exposed to fluoroacetate (Suh et al, 1970).

Fluoroacetate forms in cereals, water, plants, etc..

It is found in water after pollution of the atmosphere with fluorocarbons. As a result of the atmospheric degradation of hydrofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, trifluoroacetate (TFA) will be formed. Through precipitation, fluoroacetate enters aquatic ecosystems.

Fluoroacetate - Thyroid & Liver

In the 1930s German scientists from Bayer and Knoll’s discovered that all organic fluoride compounds interfered with thyroid hormone function (i.e. Litzka 1936,1937; Kraft, 1937).

Inhibiting activities in the liver were established to be the main factor in anti-thyroid fluoride activity. It was known that the liver was the main organ for thyroid hormone conversion (T4 -> T3) (Litzka, 1937).

Regarding the toxicity of different fluoride compounds - it showed to be merely a matter of amplification. For example, while some organic fluoride compounds were effective with a 0.1ppm fluoride content, others were just as effective with as little as 0.001ppm of F- (Kraft, 1937).

More recent evidence firmly confirms these findings. For example, monofluorophosphate (MFP) and sodium fluoride, compounds commonly employed in fluoride toothpaste, have shown to have similar effects in liver cells (hepatocytes) as fluoroacetate (Shahed et al, 1979).

Further, PMSF (phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride - a powerful serine protease inhibitor) and sodium fluoride have also shown identical effects in liver cells, and this was directly ascribed to the "F-" component (Bollen et al, 1988).

A vast amount of information is available on the potentiating powers of aluminumfluoride complexes.

The literature on other compounds such as PFOS/PFOA, PFDA, and their liver toxicity is extensive.

PMSF action is considered "analogous to that of diisopropylfluorophosphate" (DFP), a.o. the major ingredient in such pesticides as "Gliftor", which is thought to be toxic, again - because it is metabolized to fluoroacetate (Mead, 2001).

Compounds such as DFP inhibit an enzyme (prolyl endopeptidase) which inactivates thyroid-releasing-hormone (TRH). TRH is a byproduct of the hypothalamus and serves to stimulate the pituitary gland to produce thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TRH is produced by the hypothalamus when free thyroid hormone (FT3 and FT4) blood levels are low. -> feedback mechanism. DFP thus directly interferes with Free T3-mediated activities.

It is commonly thought that the toxicity of fluoroacetate is the result of its conversion into fluorocitrate which is a potent inhibitor of enzymes in the tricarboxylic-acid-cycle (i.e. Elliott & Kalnitsky, 1996).

However, much other relevant toxicity data exists showing other and unique fluoroacetate activities in different organs, including brain etc (i.e. Tecle & Casida, 1989; Twigg et al, 1986; Keller et al, 1996].

Many of these have nothing to do with any fluorocitrate formation or elevated citrate levels.

The elevated levels of citrate in blood do not become observable until 30 minutes after administration, and tend to reach their maximum at 4 hours after administration, similar as to the delayed bio-chemical effects observed in other cases of fluoride poisoning.

Adverse effects are observable much earlier than that and therefore possible sign that other mechanisms are at work, and that citrate elevations are perhaps a result of other such pre-existing mechanisms.

It has been shown that citrate levels are directly influenced by thyroid hormone (-> Free T3, see: Sochor et al, 1988; Maruo et al, 1992)

The literature suggests that this is due to reduction of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels.

From our extensive research into all kinds of fluoride compounds, both organic and inorganic, we know that toxicity is related to inhibition of activities related to Free T3, the biologically active thyroid hormone.

Paterson (1971) offered a most detailed investigation on interactions of fluoroacetate and thyroid hormones. Parkin et al (1977) found liver and thyroid disease in a rabbiter chronically exposed to fluoroacetate.


Different enzymes are capable of defluorinating fluoroacetate, thus creating free fluoride ion.

Studies on rats have shown that "free" fluoride concentrations are higher in all tissues and plasma after fluoroacetate intake (Egekeze & Oehme, 1979).

Animal experiments have shown that this defluorination is due to an glutathione-dependent enzymic mechanism (Soiefer & Kostyniak, 1986; Mead et al, 1979; Twigg et al, 1986; Wang et al, 1986).

Glutathione is selenium dependent, and essential for thyroid hormone synthesis of T4 to T3. Inhibition of synthesis will lead to so-called biochemical-induced hypothyroidism.

Current medications given in hyperthyroidism such as PTU work by inhibiting this very same enzyme-mechanism, thus causing identical effects as is known as "selenium deficiency" (Veronikis et al, 1996). Of course fluoride is openly acknowledged in other countries such as China as being cause of selenium deficiency and resulting Kashin-Beck disease. Entire villages have been re-located as the result of fluoride contamination.

Glutathione has been shown to inhibit fluoroacetate toxicity.

Regarding the liver and fluoroacetate, it should be noted that the liver is the organ with the highest fluoroacetate-defluorination ability (Soiefer & Kostyniak, 1983).

Dogs are highly sensitive to fluoroacetate, and mass poisonings of dogs eating contaminated poultry have been documented (Egyed, 1979).

Toxicity is different according to route of precursor intake, i.e. inhalation or ingestion, and varies widely among species. It is further dependent on the individual's thyroid status.

Fluoroacetate crosses the brain barrier.

See also:
EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet
sodium fluoroacetate (1080) Chemical Profile 8/90

About the ADC

“ADC employees have been convicted in the past for illegally trading in 1080. In 1990, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered illegal trade of LPCs and Compound 1080 to be common among those with access to them. There is a widespread belief by federal investigators that a black market for both still exists.”

Charlie's Story (Compound 1080 in soy formula)


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* "A 59-year-old rabbiter with repeated exposure to SMFA (sodium monofluoracetate) presented with renal, hepatic, neurologic, and thyroid dysfunction.....Liver abnormalities were demonstrated by enzyme tests and histological examination of the biopsy specimen...”

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