Ethephon — toxicity, side effects, diseases and environmental impacts

Saturday, December 02, 2017 by

Ethephon is an organophosphate chemical. It is a plant growth regulator that is used to speed up the process of fruit ripening, abscission, and flower induction. It is registered in the U.S. for applications on plants including apples, barley, blackberries, bromeliads, cantaloupes, cherries, coffee, cotton, cucumbers, grapes, guava, macadamia nuts, ornamentals, peppers, pineapples, rye, squash, sugarcane, tobacco, tomatoes, walnuts, and wheat. It works by liberating ethylene, which is absorbed by the targeted plant and interferes in the growth process. It is applied to plant foliage with the use of ground or aerial equipment as wells as a hand sprayer to specific home garden vegetables and ornamentals. Ethephon has the molecular formula of C2H6ClO3P.

List of known side effects

Ethepon can be harmful if swallowed, if it comes in contact with the skin and eyes, and if inhaled. It may cause severe skin burns, skin irritation, serious eye damage, and eye irritation. Like all other organophosphorus chemicals, ethephon poisoning can cause symptoms such as excessive salivation, sweating, rhinorrhea, and tearing. In addition, it can cause muscle twitching, weakness, tremor, incoordination, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Moreover, it can cause respiratory depression, tightness in chest, wheezing, productive cough, fluid in lungs, and pin-point pupils sometimes with blurred or dark vision. In severe cases, it can cause seizures, incontinence, respiratory depression, and loss of consciousness. In addition, it can cause cholinesterase inhibition. For its environment side effect, ethephon is very toxic to the aquatic environment.

Body systems affected by ethephon

The body systems that ethephon adversely affects are the ocular, integumentary, digestive, respiratory, nervous, and muscular systems.

Items that can contain ethephon

The items that can contain ethephon are those herbicide products that regulate plant growth, prevent lodging in cereals, pineapples, bush fruit, coffee, ornamentals, tobacco, rubber, and promote the ripening of fruit. Ethephon is used as an active ingredient in may commercial herbicides and can be found in the trade names of Arvest, Bromeflor, Etheverse, Flordimex, Flordimex T-Extra, Cerone, Cyclade, Sypex, Terpal, Upgrade, Forgrow, Florel, Etherel, and Chipco Florel Pro and Prep.

How to avoid ethephon

One of the ways to reduce or avoid ethephon exposure is to use it in a properly ventilated area. However, if this is not available, it is advised to wear an appropriate respirator. In order to avoid skin contact, wear protective gloves and protective clothing, such as suits, footwear, and headgear when using the chemical. In order to avoid eye contact with the chemical, it is important to wear an eye protection. Because it can be toxic if swallowed, it is important to wash hands properly before eating, drinking, smoking or using the toilet. Moreover, where ethephon is handled, processed, or stored, it is important to remember to refrain from eating, smoking, or drinking.

Where to learn more

Summary

Ethephon, an organophosphate chemical, is used as a plant growth regulator that can promote the ripening of fruits, abscission, and flower induction in cereals, pineapples, bush fruit, coffee, ornamentals, tobacco, rubber, and promote the ripening of fruit.

Ethephon may cause severe skin burns, skin irritation, serious eye damage, and eye irritation.

Ethephon poisoning can cause excessive salivation, sweating, rhinorrhea, tearing, muscle twitching, weakness, tremor, incoordination, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, respiratory depression, tightness in chest, wheezing, productive cough, fluid in lungs, and pin-point pupils oftentimes with blurred or dark vision.

Ethephon adversely affects the ocular, integumentary, digestive, respiratory, nervous, and muscular systems.

Ethephon is very toxic to the aquatic environment.

Sources include:

EPA.gov

PMEP.CCE.Cornell.edu

PesticideInfo.org

PubChem.NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov

PesticideInfo.org

Sitem.Herts.AC.uk

DataSheets.SCBT.com



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