DIELDRIN – An Old Remedy For A New Kill

In the past I’ve blogged about many compounds that have been used for murder or kylsans-chemicalsbeen used as wartime bio-weapons. One of the common denominators of these lethal compounds is that many were first developed as pesticides and used for that purpose until the lethal effects to humans were realized.

One such chemical is dieldrin, an organochloride compound originallyshowThumb.aspx produced by a Denver, Colorado company in 1948. The product was marketed as an alternative to DDT and was widely used during the 1950s and into the 1970s as an insecticide on corn and cotton plants.

It was banned for that specific use in 1974 (and for all pesticide use by the mid-1980s) due to its harmful environmental impact and human health concerns. In the United States, dieldrin was the second most common pesticide detected in US pasteurized milk.

Chronic exposure to low and moderate levels of dieldrin can cause headaches, dizziness, vomiting, irritability and eventually can lead to spastic muscle movements. Health problems linked to this chemical include Parkinson’s disease, breast cancer as well as damage to the immune, reproductive and nervous systems.

Presently, many countries across the world have banned dieldrin’s use. However, the lethal effects of this substance have been linked to murders in and around the 21st century. An upstate New York gardener who strangled and raped a fourteen-year-old girl was convicted and sent to prison for his crimes, but in repeated appeals he continued to blame exposure to dieldrin as the cause of his episodes of mania and his depraved acts on the young girl.

An episode of Law and Order: SVU, which originally aired in November 2006, contained an interesting plot of adultery that evolved into murder in which the killer used dieldrin as the poison.

Dieldrin is a white powder with a mild odor. Technical grade dieldrin is a tan powder. Neither form is soluble in water, but the chemical is readily absorbed white-powder-120921by inhalation, ingestion or via contact with skin. Much of the chemical is metabolized and eliminated by the human body. A clinically significant portion is stored in fat cells, however, and accumulation in the body creates the toxic effects.

The substance is an extremely stable organic compound and does not break down easily and kills via bioaccumulation—the progressive increaseDieldrin-3D-balls-1 in the amount of toxic substance in an organism that occurs because the rate of intake exceeds the organism’s ability to remove the chemical from the body.

Since dieldrin strongly adheres to soil and resists breakdown, it continues to be an environmental contaminant and enters many lakes, ponds and streams due to soil runoff.

Dieldrin presents an interesting opportunity for fiction writers—from environmental contaminant plots with conflicts against the mega chemical industry to murder mystery plots using old dieldrin found in the storage shed of vintage homes. Research dieldrin, my writer friends, and let your imagination run wild!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

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About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Murder, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Bloodless Death Scenes, Chemical Poisons, Chemicals Used For Murder, Contact Poisons, Deadly Poisons Discussed, Designer Drug Deaths, Designing Murder Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dieldrin and Its Lethal Effects, Dieldrin and Murder, Dieldrin For Murder Mysteries, Dieldrin Poisoning, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Drug Poisoning, Drugs Used For Murder, How to Use Prologues, Ideas for Murder Scenes, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Lethal Chemicals in Murder Mysteries, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Weapons, Murder Weapons Discussed, New Blog, New Methods of Murder, Plotting Interesting Murder Scenes, Poisons and Murder, Poisons Used For Murder, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Science of Murder, Tools for Murder, Unique Murder Plots, Unique Murder Weapons, Ways to Murder and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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