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style="background: #F8EABA; text-align: center;" colspan="2" | Identifiers
Abbreviations DBCP
CAS number 96-12-8 YesY
style="background: #F8EABA; text-align: center;" colspan="2" | Properties
Molecular formula C3H5Br2Cl
Molar mass 236.33 g mol−1
 YesY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane, (dibromochloropropane) better known as DBCP, is the active ingredient in the nematicide Nemagon, also known as Fumazone. It is a soil fumigant formerly used in American agriculture. In mammals it causes male sterility at high levels of exposure. After discovery of its deleterious health effects on humans, the compound was banned from use in 1979 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[1] The continuing presence of the chemical as a contaminant in ground water remains a problem for many communities for years after end of use.


  • Until 1977, DBCP was used as a soil fumigant and nematocide on over 40 different crops in the United States. It fights pests that attack the roots of fruit trees and boosts the weight of harvests by 20 percent.[2] From 1977 to 1979, EPA suspended registration for all DBCP-containing products except for use on pineapples in Hawaii. In 1985, EPA issued an intent to cancel all registrations for DBCP, including use on pineapples. Subsequently, the use of existing stocks of DBCP was prohibited.
  • DBCP is used as an intermediate in the synthesis of organic chemicals.

Sources and potential exposure

  • Human exposure to DBCP could result from the ingestion of contaminated drinking water and food.
  • Human exposure could also result from inhalation and / or skin contact with the product.
  • In the past, release of DBCP to the environment occurred primarily from its fumigant and nematocide uses; because of the cancellation of all DBCP uses, environmental exposure is expected to decline with time.

Examples of persistence

DBCP residues have persisted in contaminated soil and groundwater long after applications have ceased. For example in agricultural areas around Turlock in the Central Valley of California, DBCP was applied to crops in the 1970s. As late as 1989, DBCP persistence was reported in groundwater that was previously used for beneficial purposes, and numerous nearby wells had to be shut down at that time.[3]


Workers at the Dow Chemical plant producing DBCP were made sterile by exposure to DBCP. These male reproductive effects were consistent with animal experiments showing that DBCP sterilizes rabbits. One contract worker at the production plant successfully sued the company. Most workers remained with the company and in a company sponsored medical program until the facility was sold in 1987. At that time, some of the workers did file suit against the company. However, the suit was denied due to "statute of limitations" issues.

Most domestic uses of the chemical were banned in 1977. Amid growing concerns over DBCP's effects on male workers, Dow ceased production and reclaimed DBCP that had been shipped to its users.

However, despite warnings from Dow about its health effects, the Dole Food Company, which was using the chemical on its banana plantations in Latin America, threatened to sue Dow if it stopped DBCP shipments. Dow then shipped half a million gallons of DBCP to Dole, much of it reclaimed from other users. Plantation workers who became sterile or were stricken with other maladies subsequently sued Dow and Dole in Latin American courts, alleging that their ailments were caused by DBCP exposure. Although the courts agreed with the workers and awarded them over $600 million in damages, they were unable to collect payments from the companies. A group of workers then filed lawsuits in the United States, and on November 5, 2007, a Los Angeles jury awarded them 3.2 million dollars.[4] On April 23, 2009 a Los Angeles judge threw out two cases against Dole and Dow Chemical due to fraud and extortion by lawyers in Nicaragua recruiting fraudulent plaintiffs to make claims against the company.[5] The ruling casts doubt on $2 billion in judgments in similar lawsuits.[6]

Workers in the Ivory Coast using the Alien Tort Claims Act, and claiming sterility, crimes against humanity, and genocide, sued (in Abagninin v. AMVAC Chemical Corp. [No. 07-56326]), these manufacturers of DBCP: Amvac Chemical, Dow Chemical, Shell Oil Company, as well as Dole Food Company, who used it on overseas crops, but never used it in the Ivory Coast. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the workers in September 2008, stating that the plaintiffs did not show that the defendants had "specific intent" to intend harm against the workers and the citizens of the country. To be found guilty of genocide the defendant must have knowingly set out to commit the offense.[7][8]


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External links

es:DBCP fr:1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane nl:1,2-dibroom-3-chloorpropaan

  1. Hazard Summary. - United States Environmental Protection Agency. - EPA.gov.
  2. Spano, John. - "Dole Must Pay $2.5 Million in Punitive Damages". - Los Angeles Times. - November 15, 2007.
  3. "Environmental Screening Analysis, Tully Road Properties, Turlock, California". - Earth Metrics Incorporated. - Report 7826, San Mateo, California. - March, 1989
  4. Spano, John. - "Dole must pay farmworkers $3.2 million". - Los Angeles Times. - November 6, 2007.
  5. Hallman, Ben. - "Finding Plaintiffs Lawyers Committed Fraud, Judge Dismisses Tort Cases Against Dole and Dow Chemical". - The American Lawyer. - April 27, 2009.
  6. Keating, Gina. - "Judge throws out Dole "bananeros" cases, citing fraud". - Forbes. - April 24, 2009.
  7. Abagninin v. AMVAC Chemical Corp.. - United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. - September 24, 2008. - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document).
  8. Williams, Carol J. - "Appeals Court Rules Against Ivory Coast Farm Workers". - Los Angeles Times. - September 24, 2008.