Concept

2,4-Dinitrophenol

Summary
2,4-Dinitrophenol (2,4-DNP or simply DNP) is an organic compound with the formula HOC6H3(NO2)2. It is a yellow, crystalline solid that has a sweet, musty odor. It sublimates, is volatile with steam, and is soluble in most organic solvents as well as aqueous alkaline solutions. When in a dry form, it is a high explosive and has an instantaneous explosion hazard. It is a precursor to other chemicals and is biochemically active, uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation from the electron transport chain in cells with mitochondria, by allowing hydrogen cations to pass from the intermembrane space into the mitochondrial matrix. Oxidative phosphorylation is a highly regulated step in aerobic respiration that is inhibited, among other factors, by normal cellular levels of ATP. Uncoupling it results in chemical energy from diet and energy stores such as triglycerides being wasted as heat with minimal regulation, leading to dangerously high body temperatures that may develop into heatstroke. Its use as a dieting aid has been identified with severe side-effects, including a number of deaths. Historically, DNP has been used as an antiseptic and as a non-selective bioaccumulating pesticide. DNP was particularly useful as a herbicide alongside other closely related dinitrophenol herbicides like 2,4-dinitro-o-cresol (DNOC), dinoseb and dinoterb. Since 1998 DNP has been withdrawn from agricultural use. Currently, there are no actively registered pesticides containing DNP in the United States or Europe. Dinoseb is used industrially as a polymerisation inhibitor during styrene production. In 2023, after extensive consultation, the Home Office could not determine any legitimate industrial uses for DNP in the United Kingdom. It is a chemical intermediate in the production of sulfur dyes, wood preservatives and picric acid. DNP has also been used to make photographic developers and explosives (see shellite). DNP is classified as an explosive in the United Kingdom and the United States.
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