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Kepone: Wikis


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Chlordecone Kepone 3D.png
IUPAC name
Other names Chlordecone
CAS number 143-50-0 Yes check.svgY
PubChem 299
ChemSpider ID 293
Molecular formula C10Cl10O
Molar mass 490.64 g mol−1
Density 1.6 g/cm3
 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Kepone, also known as chlordecone, is a carcinogenic[1] insecticide related to mirex, used between 1966 and 1975 in the USA for ant and roach baits.


Chemistry and toxicology

Chemically, kepone is a chlorinated polycyclic ketone insecticide and fungicide with the chemical formula C10Cl10O. The dry powder is readily absorbed through the skin and respiratory tract. Some unprotected production workers exposed to kepone powder suffered tremors, jerky eye movements, memory loss, headaches, slurred speech, unsteadiness, lack of coordination, loss of weight, rash, enlarged liver, decreased libido, sterility, chest pain, arthralgia, and the increased risk of developing cancer. Kepone persists in the environment, with a half-life of about 30 years.


Kepone was produced by Allied Signal Company in Hopewell, Virginia and caused a nationwide pollution controversy due to improper handling and dumping of the substance into the nearby James River.[2] In the United States, its use was banned in 1975. In 2009 was included in the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants, which bans its production and use worldwide.[3]

In July 2003, a Richmond Magazine article chronicled the ill health effects on Allied Signal employees and described how Dan Rather and CBS's 60 Minutes brought nationwide attention to the problem.[4]

Due to the pollution scare, many businesses and restaurants along the river suffered, and then-Governor Mills Godwin Jr. shut down the James River to fishing from Richmond to the Chesapeake Bay.

French Antilles

The French island of Martinique is heavily contaminated with kepone,[5] following years of unrestricted (including spray planes) use on banana plantations. Despite a 1990 ban of the substance by France, the island was, after intensive lobbying by the economically powerful Béké community, allowed to continue using kepone until 1993, under the since disputed argument that no alternative pesticide was available. Similarly, the nearby island of Guadeloupe is also contaminated, but to a lesser extent.

In popular culture

Kepone was the name of an American indie rock band from Richmond, Virginia. Formed in 1991, the band's name is derived from the kepone crisis that occurred in the Richmond area in the 1970s. It was originally formed as a sideproject of Michael Bishop, ex-bassist of GWAR.

The Dead Kennedys recorded a song named "Kepone Factory", deliberately referring to the chemical compound kepone, for their 1981 album In God We Trust, Inc.. The song was written in 1978 and was performed live despite not appearing on any recording until 1981.


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