International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Summaries & Evaluations

(Group 3)

For definition of Groups, see Preamble Evaluation.

Supplement 7: (1987) (p. 196)

CAS No.: 60-57-1

A. Evidence for carcinogenicity to humans (inadequate)

Mean tissue levels of dieldrin were reported to be elevated in one necropsy study of 50 cancer patients compared to 42 control subjects [ref: 1]. Mean serum levels were not generally found to be elevated in cancer patients compared with controls in one study [ref: 2], but not in another [ref: 3]. Follow-up for four to 29 years (mean, 24 years) of 233 workers employed for four to 27 years (mean, 11 years) in the manufacture of aldrin, dieldrin and endrin revealed nine deaths from cancer with 12 expected (standardized mortality ratio [SMR], 75; 95% confidence interval, 25-125) [ref: 4,5]. In a similar study, 90% of 1155 men employed in the manufacture of aldrin, dieldrin and endrin were followed for 13 years or more. Mortality from all cancers was not increased (SMR, 82; 56-116), although there were apparent increases in mortality from cancers of the oesophagus, rectum and liver based on very small numbers [ref: 6].

B. Evidence for carcinogenicity to animals (limited)

Dieldrin has been tested by oral administration in mice, rats, trout, hamsters, dogs and monkeys. In mice, it produced benign and malignant liver neoplasms [ref: 1,7-10]; no carcinogenic effect was observed in feeding studies using several strains of rats [ref: 1,8,11], trout [ref: 12] and hamsters [ref: 13], the latter having been given relatively high doses. Feeding studies in dogs and monkeys were inadequate for evaluation [ref: 1]. Dietary administration to trout of dieldrin enhanced the incidence of liver tumours induced by dietary administration of aflatoxin B1 [ref: 12].

C. Other relevant data

In one study, chromosomal aberrations were not found in peripheral blood lymphocytes of workers exposed to dieldrin [ref: 14].

Dieldrin did not induce dominant lethal mutations in mice or chromosomal aberrations in bone-marrow cells of Chinese hamsters treated in vivo. It induced unscheduled DNA synthesis in transformed human fibroblasts but not in rat hepatocytes; it did not induce single-strand breaks in Chinese hamster V79 cells. Dieldrin inhibited intercellular communication in human and rodent cell systems. It did not induce sex-linked recessive lethal mutations in Drosophila, was not mutagenic to bacteria and did not induce breakage of plasmid DNA [ref: 14].

Overall evaluation

Dieldrin is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3).

For definition of the italicized terms, see Preamble Evaluation.

Also see previous evaluation: Vol. 5 (1974)


1. IARC Monographs, 5, 125-156, 1974

2. Caldwell, G.G., Cannon, S.B., Pratt, C.B. & Arthur, R.D. (1981) Serum pesticide levels in patients with childhood colorectal carcinoma. Cancer, 48, 774-778

3. Davis, J.E., Barquet, A., Morgade, G. & Raffionelli, A. (1975) Epidemiologic studies of DDT and dieldrin residues and their relationship to human carcinogenesis. In: Proceedings of an International Symposition on Recent Advances in Assessing Health Effects of Environmental Pollution, Vol. 2 (EUR 5360), Luxembourg, Commission of the European Communities, pp. 695-702

4. van Raalte, H.G.S. (1977) Human experience with dieldrin in perspective. Ecotoxicol. environ. Saf., 1, 203-210

5. Ribbens, P.H. (1985) Mortality study of industrial workers exposed to aldrin, dieldrin and endrin. Int. Arch. occup. environ. Health, 56, 75-79

6. Ditraglia, D., Brown, D.P., Namekata, T. & Iverson, N. (1981) Mortality study of workers employed at organochlorine pesticide manufacturing plants. Scand. J. Work Environ. Health, 7 (Suppl. 4), 140-146

7. Tennekes, H.A., Wright, A.S., Dix, K.M. & Koeman, J.H. (1981) Effects of dieldrin, diet, and bedding on enzyme function and tumor incidence in livers of male CF-1 mice. Cancer Res., 41, 3615-3620

8. National Cancer Institute (1978) Bioassays of Aldrin and Dieldrin for Possible Carcinogenicity (Tech. Rep. Ser. No. 21; DHEW Publ. No. (NIH) 78-821), Bethesda, MD, Carcinogenesis Testing Program, Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention

9. Ruebner, B.H., Gershwin, M.E., Hsieh, L. & Dunn, P. (1980) Ultrastructure of spontaneous neoplasms induced by diethylnitrosamine and dieldrin in the C3H mouse. J. environ. Pathol. Toxicol., 4, 237-254

10. Meierhenry, E.F., Ruebner, B.H., Gershwin, M.E., Hsieh, L.S. & French, S.W. (1983) Dieldrin-induced Mallory bodies in hepatic tumors of mice of different strains. Hepatology, 3, 90-95

11. National Cancer Institute (1978) Bioassay of Dieldrin for Possible Carcinogenicity (Tech. Rep. Ser. No. 22; DHEW Publ. No. (NIH) 78-822), Bethesda, MD, Carcinogenesis Testing Program, Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention

12. Hendricks, J.D., Putnam, T.P. & Sinnhuber, R.O. (1979) Effect of dietary dieldrin on aflatoxin B1 carcinogenesis in rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). J. environ. Pathol. Toxicol., 2, 719-728

13. Cabral, J.R.P., Hall, R.K., Bronczyk, S.A. & Shubik, P. (1979) A carcinogenicity study of the pesticide dieldrin in hamsters. Cancer Lett., 6, 241-246

14. IARC Monographs, Suppl. 6, 242-244, 1987


Last updated: 9 March 1998

    See Also:
       Toxicological Abbreviations
       Dieldrin (ICSC)
       Dieldrin (PIM 575)
       Dieldrin (FAO Meeting Report PL/1965/10/1)
       Dieldrin (FAO/PL:CP/15)
       Dieldrin (FAO/PL:1967/M/11/1)
       Dieldrin (FAO/PL:1968/M/9/1)
       Dieldrin (FAO/PL:1969/M/17/1)
       Dieldrin (AGP:1970/M/12/1)