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Chlordane

Chlordane

Chlordane is an organochlorine insecticide, more specifically a chlorinated cyclic hydrocarbon within the cyclodiene group. The proper scientific name for chlordane is 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8-octachloro-3a, 4, 7, 7atetrahydro-4, 7-methanoindan. However, the actual technical product is a mixture of various chlorinated hydrocarbons, including isomers of chlordane and other closely related compounds.

Chlordane was first used as an insecticide in 1945. Its use was widespread until the 1970s and included applications inside homes to control insects in stored food and clothing, as well as to control termites, carpenter ants, and wood-boring beetles. An especially intensive use was to kill earthworms in golf-course putting greens and in prize lawns, for which more than 9 kg/ha might be applied. The major use of chlordane in agriculture was to control insect pests in soil and on plants. In 1971 about 25 million pounds (11.4 million kg) of chlordane was manufactured in the United States, of which about 8% was used in agriculture, and most of the rest in and around homes. Today the use of chlordane is highly restricted, and limited to the control of fire ants.

Like other chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides such as DDT, chlordane is virtually insoluble in water (5 ppm), but highly soluble in organic solvents and oils. This property, coupled with the persistence of chlordane in the environment, gives it a propensity to accumulate in organisms (i.e., to bioaccumulate), especially in animals at the top of food webs. Because of its insolubility in water, chlordane is relatively immobile in soil, and tends not to leach into surface or ground water.

The acute toxicity of chlordane to humans is considered to be high to medium by oral ingestion, and hazardous by inhalation. Chlordane causes damage to many organs, including the liver, testicles, blood, and the neural system. It also affects hormone levels and is a suspected mutagen and carcinogen. Chlordane is very toxic to arthropods and to some fish, birds, and mammals.

See also Bioaccumulation; Pesticides.

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Chlordane

Chlordane

Chlordane and a closely related compound, heptachlor, belong to a group of chlorine-based pesticides known as cyclodienes. They were among the first major chemicals to attract national attention and controversy, mainly because of their devastating effects on wildlife and domestic animals. By the 1970s, they had become two of the most popular pesticides for home and agricultural uses (especially for termite control), despite links between these chemicals and the poisoning of birds and other wildlife, pets and farm animals, as well as links to leukemia and other cancers in humans.

In 1975, environmentalists finally persuaded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue an immediate temporary ban on most uses of chlordane and heptachlor based on an "imminent hazard of cancer in man." In 1978, when the EPA agreed to phase out most remaining uses of chlordane and heptachlor, the agency stated that "virtually every person in the United States has residues...in his body tissues." Chlordane has now been banned, at least temporarily, for sale or use in the U.S. But potentially dangerous levels of the chemical are still found occasionally in food-stuffs, homes, and the environment .

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