The first carbamic acid derivatives having insecticide properties were synthesized in 1947. The most commonly used carbamate insecticide in agriculture is carbaryl. It is a systemic poison which produces moderately severe acute effects when ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It may cause local skin irritation. Being a cholinesterase inhibitor, it is much more active in insects than in mammals. This compound is only partly broken down in plants to non-toxic compounds, and metabolites with anticholinesterase properties can become translocated to a certain extent into plant tissues.
More than 1,000 carbamic acid derivatives are how known. More than 50 of them are used as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and nematocides. Total diet studies indicate a daily intake of 0.02 mg of carbaryl from meat, fish and poultry.