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Dicamba — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Saturday, December 02, 2017 by

Pesticide Properties DataBase entry classifies dicamba as a selective and systemic herbicide. It is used to control and eliminate various species of annual and perennial broad-leaved weeds including bedstraw, buttercup and thistle as well as lambsquarters, mallow and goosefoot. Likewise, the herbicide is applied to staple crops such as:

  • Corn
  • Cotton
  • Sugarcane
  • Soybeans
  • Sorghum
  • Asparagus
  • Grass seed crops

List of known side effects

A entry published in the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) website shows that dicamba may cause reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and acute toxicity. The hazardous chemical is also notoriously detrimental to respiratory health. According to an Extension Toxicology Network article, inhaling toxic fumes may result in labored breathing and irritation of the nasal and lung passages.

The systemic herbicide is also associated with an increased risk of muscle weakness, repeated muscle spasms, and general exhaustion. Likewise, exposure to the toxic chemical may lead to slowed heart rate, urinary incontinence, and cyanosis or bluing of the skin and gums. Dicamba poisoning may also trigger the onset of anorexia, vomiting, and central nervous system excitability and depression. The highly corrosive substance may lead to contact dermatitis and eye damage too.

Pub Chem entry has also revealed that the selective herbicide may contaminate water sources and impact aquatic ecosystems and various animal species such as fishes, invertebrates, and crustaceans. The chemical is detrimental to aquatic plants, algae, and sediment-residing organisms as well. Likewise, dicamba is toxic to birds, mammals, and other beneficial animals such as honeybees and earthworms.

Body systems affected by dicamba

Dicamba is particularly harmful to the respiratory tract and the central nervous system. Likewise, the chemical affects the heart, digestive tract, and the muscular system. The systemic herbicide is also detrimental to the skin and eyes.

Items that can contain dicamba

Dicamba is the primary chemical component of many brand name herbicides such as Metambane, Dianat, Banfel and Banvel as well as Di-Farmon R, Foundation, Prompt and Relay P. The compound is available in soluble concentrate formulation. Dicambe is widely used in Europe, Australia and the U.S.

How to avoid dicamba

hazardous substance fact sheet published by the New Jersey Department of Health suggest using protective clothing, gloves, and respiratory equipment to reduce the risk of direct chemical exposure. The data sheet also recommends that workplaces install adequate ventilation to lower the odds of exposure. The guidelines stress that people exposed to the harmful chemical should contact a poison control center or seek immediate medical attention.

Likewise, the data sheet advises that people exposed to the harmful chemical be taken to an area with fresh air. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is to be performed on victims who fell unconscious after inhaling the substance. Victims who had direct eye and skin contact are also advised to remove contaminated clothing articles and contact lenses and thoroughly wash the affected areas with plenty of water. Furthermore, the safety guidelines suggest that people immediately evacuate the area to avoid direct contact if an accidental spill occurs.

Where to learn more


Dicamba may cause reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and acute toxicity.

Dicamba exposure may result in labored breathing and irritation of the nasal and lung passages.

Dicamba increases the risk of muscle weakness, repeated muscle spasms and general exhaustion.

Dicamba triggers slowed heart rate, urinary incontinence and cyanosis as well as skin and eye irritation.

Dicamba is particularly harmful to the respiratory tract and the central nervous system.

Dicamba affects the heart, digestive tract and the muscular system as well as the skin and eyes.

Sources include:


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