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 chemicals used during the Vietnam War, is 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.
Cacodyloxide, ((CH3)2As)2O, is often considered the first organometallic compound to be prepared synthetically.
Cacodylic acid can be reduced to dimethylarsine (III) derivatives, which are versatile intermediates for the synthesis of other organoarsenic compounds:
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.
A Geographic Information System for Characterizing Exposure to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides in Vietnam. (Research)
Mar 01, 2003; Between 1961 and 1971, U.S. military forces dispersed more than 19 million gallons of phenoxy and other herbicidal agents in the...