Chlordecone was first produced in the United States in the early 1950s (IARC, 1979). It was introduced commercially in 1958 (Bus and Leber, 2001). Approximately 3.6 million pounds of chlordecone were produced in the United States between 1951 and 1975 (ATSDR, 1995). Chlordecone production in the United States ended in 1975 after intoxication from severe industrial exposure was observed in employees who worked at the only chlordecone manufacturing plant in the country (Bus and Leber, 2001). Typical signs of chlordecone intoxication include nervousness, headache, and tremor (Cannon et al., 1978).
Chlordecone was primarily used as an insecticide (IARC, 1979). Specific applications have included control of the banana root borer, application on non-fruit-bearing citrus trees to control rust mites, control of wireworms in tobacco fields, control of apple scab and powdery mildew, control of the grass mole cricket, and control of slugs, snails, and fire ants (NLM, 2004a; ATSDR, 1995). Its registration was cancelled in 1978 (Metcalf, 2002; IARC, 1979).