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To the Editor:—
I commend The Journal for bringing the dangers of pesticides to the attention of the medical profession but feel that such information could be more specific. The July 6, 1964, issue (vol 189) makes reference (in an editorial on p 56 and in a Letter to the Editor on p 66) to studies which indicate that 2,4-dichlorophenol and 2,4,5trichlorophenol are causal agents of chloracne. I believe that these two phenols are used only as intermediates in the preparation of the common weed killers, 2,4-dichlorophenoxy acetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxy acetic acid, and thus would not be expected to be found in more than trace amounts in the commercial herbicides. I do not know whether or not the phenoxy acetic acids themselves are capable of inducing chloracne, but feel that correction should be made in the statements relative to these phenols, lest these most useful herbicides be unduly branded.
Willard JR. Pesticides, Chloracne, and Porphyria Cutanea Tarda. JAMA. 1964;190(1):81. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070140087030