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Dichlorprop — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Thursday, November 23, 2017 by

Dichlorprop, also known as Dichlorprop-P, belongs to the group of phenoxyproponic acid herbicides such as mecocrop and fenoprop. It can be physically described as an odorless crystal with a clear to yellowish color. This herbicide is absorbed mainly through the leaves and works by inducing a series of morphological effects such as decreases in root and shoot growth by acting as a mimic of auxin.

It increases cell wall plasticity and triggers synthesis of proteins and the plant hormone ethylene, resulting to abnormal growth that damages vascular and growing tissues. This in turn, leads to death of the targeted plant. This herbicide is used against post-emergent broad-leaf weeds and brush. It is used for weed control on residential lawns, recreational turf, sports fields, sod farms, roadsides, industrial sites, rights-of-way, and forests, but not in agricultural applications. It is also used for regulating plant growth, like increasing fruit size on citrus.

In the United States, approximately four million pounds of dichlorprop-p is used every year, and about 60 percent of this is used on residential lawns. The Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S. banned the use of aerial applications of dichlorprop because of its potential mobility. However, it is registered for general use, but not for use on agricultural food crops. Dichlorprop has the molecular formula of C9H8Cl2O3.

List of known side effects

Dichlorprop, as an herbicide, can cause several health hazards to humans. It can be harmful if swallowed as it may cause diarrhea, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Skin contact with the chemical may cause redness on the affected area or skin irritation. If inhaled, it may cause cough and sore throat and prolonged inhalation may cause dizziness and chest pain. In addition, in case of eye contact, it may cause redness, pain, and severe burns in the eyes.

Furthermore, this herbicide may cause damage to fertility or to an unborn child. Exposure to dichlorprop may also cause damage to different body organs. This chemical is also suspected to be carcinogenic.

One of the environmental health effects of dichlorprop is that it releases toxic or corrosive gases if burned or heated. The chemical is also toxic to mammals, birds, and fish and other aquatic organisms. Its low affinity for soil may also lead to contamination of water sources in runoff.

Body systems affected by dichlorprop

There are a lot of body systems that can be adversely affected by dichlorprop. These include the digestive, respiratory, integumentary, ocular, reproductive, and nervous systems.

Items that can contain dichlorprop

Items that can contain dichlorprop are those herbicide products used for brush and broad-leaved weeds such as black bindweed, hawthorne, wild cherry, wild raspberry, horsetail, teasel, spotted lady’s thumb, smartweed, Canada thistle, goosefoot, stink weed, cocklebur, docks, and kochia.

These products are commonly used on cereals such as wheat, barley, oats, triticale, rye, non-cropped land, citrus fruits, apple, and pear orchards. Some of the brand names that use dichlorprop are Link, Optica, Duplosan DP, and Corasil.

How to avoid dichlorprop

There are several ways on how to avoid dichlorprop exposure. One of these ways is to refrain from using it near any food sources. Another way to avoid exposure from the chemical, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is to have a local exhaust, proper ventilation, or breathing protection. This is important to avoid dichlorprop exposure from inhalation. Moreover, chemical exposure through skin contact can be avoided by using protective gloves. To avoid chemical contact in the eyes, it is advised to use safety spectacles or goggles. Lastly, refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking when working with the chemical and wash hands before eating to prevent ingesting the chemical.

Where to learn more


Dichlorprop, also referred to as Dichlorprop-P, belongs to the group of phenoxyproponic acid herbicides. It is used as an herbicide for controlling brush and broad-leaved weeds and as a plant growth regulator for increasing the fruit sizes of citrus fruits.

Dichlorprop may cause diarrhea, headache, nausea, and vomiting if swallowed.

Dichlorprop may cause irritation in the skin and eyes.

Dichlorprop may cause cough, sore throat, dizziness, or chest pain if inhaled, depending on the length of exposure.

Dichlorprop is a potential carcinogen.

Dichlorprop is harmful to mammals, birds, and fish and other aquatic animals.

Dichlorprop may adversely affect the digestive, respiratory, integumentary, ocular, reproductive, and nervous systems.

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