Zbynek Ulcak asked what 2,4,5-T stands for. Certainly NOT an
off-topic question for any of us engaged in sustag education! This is
exactly the kind of information we all should be prepared to answer
on the spot or at a moment's notice. Because chemicals like this are
among the reasons we do what we do.
2,4,5-T is the abbreviation for 2,4,5-Trichlorophenol. CAS (Chemical
Abstract) # 95-95-4
Or for 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, CAS # 93-76-5, which
photodegrades to the compound above, and others.
(And there may be other related compounds...these were the two I
found most often in various CAS tables.)
Here is the Environmental Defense Fund's "Scorecard" chemical profile:
You may have trouble with that URL--if so, go to
and search on the name (2,4,5-T). The EDF site is great, except for
geeky bells and whistles, like Java--which eats bandwidth and slows
or breaks things down for people with lower-end interfaces or slow
Here's EXTOXNET's poop:
Please note that some of the EXTOXNET stuff dates to 1980. I.e., the
"good old days" for the ag chemical folks, before irritating folks
started doing things like questioning the assumptions behind
For some reason, the PANNA PESTIS database wouldn't give me results
on the search term 2,4,5-T or the full compound names above.
Historically, in this century, the compound was most notorious for
being a widely used post-emergence herbicide...contaminated with a
tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin [2,3,7,8-TCDD]) isomer.
2,4,5-T and 2,4-D were combined to make a defoliant, mixed with
kerosene or diesel fuel, used to denude Vietnam of its greenery (as
"Agent Orange"). It was found to be contaminated with dioxin, and
implicated not only in that environmental and health disaster, but
suspected of effects on the American GIs who were exposed to it as
well. And perhaps even passed along to their children.
Sufficient evidence exists that there are links between Agent Orange
exposure and soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's
disease, chloracne, and porphyria cutanea tarda.
Vic observed that
>There were a number of cases of Spina Bifida in children
>of Agricultural dept officers who were using chemicals.
What appears to be higher rates of Spina Bifida among the children of
Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange has come out of CDC and other
research. Though highly conservative organizations like the Cato
Institute do all they can to blow that out of the water. We can't
have citizens claiming that they've been injured by products and
technologies, can we? I mean, if so, we might all forget that the
American Way of Life as sold to us in the last half of the 20th
century was a hip/hype modern overwrought industrial PR vision. If
that were the case, folks could start believing once again in
outdated stuff from hundreds of years ago about Tea Parties and
recreating ineffective governments and referendum and recall, etc.,
that they learned through subversive channels like public education,
truly free press, the corner bar/diner, and talking to each other.
2,4-D is a phenoxyaliphatic/phenoxyacetic herbicide. This foliar
herbicide is an auxin growth regulator. It moves primarily from the
leaf of the plant to meristems and other plant parts and disrupts
basic cell biochemistry. If I'm not mistaken--could someone please
check me on this?--2,4,5-T has the same mode of action.
As Vic pointed out, it is a hormone disruptor, and also can disrupt
protein synthesis. Here are some photos of what 2,4-D can do if
"misapplied" or drifted:
I certainly would love to hear someone explain how these growth
regulators--that disrupt metabolic cycles in such a broad range of
plants--can't have any effect on other forms of life. I've got some
evolutionary thoughts percolating on this topic...which I'll share as
soon as I can articulate them.
Zbynek, Vic, others, I have a story off-list about 2,4-D; contact me
Here's a toxicological profile for dioxin from the US Public Health
Service's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
Center for Integrated Ag Systems, UW-Madison
UW voice mail: 608-262-8018
Home office: 415-504-6474 (504-MISH)
Home office fax: Same as above, phone first for enabling
Wash your hands after using any pesticide product. --Dow Elanco
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