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Chlorinated phenols: occurrence, toxicity, metabolism, and environmental impact.

Pentachlorophenol and the lower chlorinated phenols, tetra- and trichlorophenols, have gained an increasing use as fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, and precursors in the synthesis of other pesticides since the early 1930s. World-wide production totals about 200,000 tons. Production and use of chlorinated phenols have caused industrial hygiene problems but, otherwise, have not been recognized to create more than limited environmental problems. The introduction of modern analytical techniques, however, has revealed the ubiquitous occurrence of chlorophenols in the environment, and the discovery of chlorinated dimers, such as dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans, as impurities in commercial chlorophenol formulations, has made a reevaluation of the chlorinated phenols necessary. The present article reviews recent studies on the toxicity and metabolism in mammals and aquatic organisms and the degradation of the chlorophenols under various conditions in the environment. Finally, the hazards of burning of chlorophenol wastes are discussed, as well as health considerations with regard to humans and the environment.[1]


  1. Chlorinated phenols: occurrence, toxicity, metabolism, and environmental impact. Ahlborg, U.G., Thunberg, T.M. Crit. Rev. Toxicol. (1980) [Pubmed]
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