Posted: 22 August 2000

A group of organic compounds that contain chlorine (Cl). They have a variety of forms and uses including aerosol propellants, plasticisers, transformer coolants (PCBs) and food packaging (PCVs), but their greatest use was as pesticides, in the form of DDT, Aldrine and Lindane. However, with time many pests have developed immunity to them and it has also become clear that the characteristics that made them good pesticides - persistence, mobility and high biological activity - also posed dangers for the environment. Organochlorides accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals, and through biomagnification in the food chain may reach toxic levels in predators. Because of side effects such as sterility, birth defects, cancer and damage to the nervous system, they have been banned or had their use severely restricted in most parts of the world.