Aromatic compound, any of a group of contaminants produced in making herbicides (e.g., Agent Orange), disinfectants, and other agents. Their basic chemical structure consists of two benzene rings connected by a pair of oxygen atoms; when substituents on the rings are chlorine atoms, the molecules are particularly toxic. The best-known, usually called simply dioxin, is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD). It is extremely stable chemically; it does not dissolve in water but dissolves in oils (and thus accumulates in body fat). The extent of its human toxicity is disputed and the subject of continuing research.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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