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Cacodylic acid

Cacodylic acid
IUPAC name Dimethylarsinic acid
Other names Dimethylarsenic acid, Cacodylic acid, Hydroxydimethylarsine oxide, Arsecodile, Ansar, Silvisar, Phytar 560, DMAA, UN 1572
CAS number 75-60-5
PubChem 2513
EINECS number 200-883-4
ChEBI 29839
RTECS number CH7525000
InChI InChI=1/C2H7AsO2/c1-3(2,4)5/h1-2H3,(H,4,5)
Molecular formula C2H7AsO2
Molar mass 137.9977 g/mol
Appearance White crystals or powder
Density > 1.1 g/cm3
Melting point

192 - 198 °C

Boiling point

> 200 °C

Solubility in water 667 g/l
R-phrases R26/27/28, R40
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references

Cacodylic acid is the chemical compound with the formula (CH3)2AsO2H. Derivatives of cacodylic acid, cacodylates, were frequently used as herbicides. For example, "Agent Blue," one of the defoliants in the Vietnam War, was a mixture of cacodylic acid and sodium cacodylate. Sodium cacodylate is frequently used as a buffering agent in the preparation and fixation of biological samples for transmission electron microscopy.



Significant early research into cacodyls was done by R. W. Bunsen at the University of Marburg. Bunsen said of the compounds, "the smell of this body produces instantaneous tingling of the hands and feet, and even giddiness and insensibility...It is remarkable that when one is exposed to the smell of these compounds the tongue becomes covered with a black coating, even when no further evil effects are noticeable". His work in this field led to an increased understanding of the methyl radical.

Cacodyloxide, ((CH3)2As)2O, is often considered the first organometallic compound to be prepared synthetically.

Synthesis and reactions

In the 1700s it was known that combining As2O3 and four equivalents of potassium acetate (CH3CO2K) gives a product called "Cadet's fuming liquid" which contains cacodyl oxide, ((CH3)2As)2O.

Cacodylic acid can be reduced to dimethylarsine (III) derivatives, which are versatile intermediates for the synthesis of other organoarsenic compounds:[1][2]

(CH3)2AsO2H + 2 Zn + 4 HCl → (CH3)2AsH + 2 ZnCl2 + 2 H2O
(CH3)2AsO2H + SO2 + HI → (CH3)2AsI + SO3 + H2O

Health effects

Cacodylic acid is highly toxic by ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact. Once thought to be a byproduct of inorganic arsenic detoxification, it is now believed to have serious health consequences of its own. It has been shown to be teratogenic in rodents, most often causing cleft palate but also fetal fatality at high doses. It has been shown to be genotoxic in human cells, causing apoptosis and also decreased DNA production and shorter DNA strands. While not itself a strong carcinogen, cacodylic acid does promote tumors in the presence of carcinogens in organs such as the kidneys and liver.

See also


  1. ^ Feltham, R. D.; Kasenally, A. and Nyholm, R. S., "A New Synthesis of Di- and Tri-Tertiary Arsines", Journal of Organometallic Chemistry, 1967, volume 7, 285-288.
  2. ^ Burrows, G. J. and Turner, E. E., "A New Type of Compound containing Arsenic", Journal of the Chemical Society Transactions, 1920, 1374-1383
  • Kenyon, E. M.; Hughes, M. F. "A Concise Review of the Toxicity and Carcinogenicity of Dimethylarsenic Acid." Toxicology 160 (2001): 227-236.
  • Elschenbroich, C; Salzer, A. (1992) Organometallics, 2nd Edition
  • Bunsen Biography
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cacodylic_acid". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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