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Toxaphene itself consists of a mixture of close to 200 different chemicals. Its original use was in the southeastern United States in areas they grew cotton and soybeans. The use of toxaphene peaked after the compound, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, was banned in 1972. Large quantities of toxaphene were released into the environment. The overall chlorine content of toxaphene is nearly 70% by weight with most of the organic compounds comprising toxaphene being chlorinated. The molecular weight of the different constituents can range from 308 to 551 g mol-1 with the mean formula weight of approximately 414 g mol-1 being reported. Toxaphene can be found as an yellowish-waxy substance that is relatively volatile and can be transported in the atmosphere. If inhaled, especially in larger quantities, toxaphene has been shown to cause significant damage to the lungs/respiratory tract, central nervous system, and kidneys. The use of toxaphene as an insecticide was banned in the early 1980s and completely banned in the United States in 1990. Toxaphene is not readily soluble in water and tends to deposit in the soil and sediment, as well as the atmosphere. Microorganisms in the soil tend to degrade toxaphene very slowly. As a result of the very slow ecological degradation of toxaphene, it is found in nearly 70 sites of the 1699 National Priorities List sites as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency, even though its use was banned nearly 20 years ago.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Toxicology
Subtitle of host publicationThird Edition
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780123864543
ISBN (Print)9780123864550
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Organochloride
  • Polychlorinated insecticide


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