Organotin compounds are compounds with the tin-carbon bond and some of them(specifically the tri-organo chloride ones) are as toxic as hydrogen cyanide. Why is this though as I don't really know some of the information that this link gave me. Can someone please help?


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1 Answer 1


To get the gravity of how toxic organotin compounds can be, let us compare it with inorganic tin compounds. Most of the inorganotin compounds are non-toxic because of their low solubility and low absorption in human body. Workers mining tin oxide suffer from "stannosis", a benign form of pneumoconiosis without any tissue reaction or harmful reaction inside human body. But don't get me wrong! They are still harmful: High intakes of it may cause abdominal pain and anaemia. Inhaling tin hydride can cause nerve damage. Tin(II) chloride are found to induce vomit and diarrhea in cats. But they are nothing when compared to organotin compounds.

Organotin compounds are more harmful due to the fact that it can create small chemical and biochemical reactions in environment to convert to more toxic form. In human body, they are far more dangerous. The toxicity of the compounds depends on the structure of the compounds and its physicochemical action on human body. Small chain alkyltin compounds are by far the most toxic especially trimethyl and triethyl tin compounds because they can absorb in gastrointestinal tract. Triethyltin particularly produces status spongiosus of the white matter of the central nervous system and causes encephalopathy and cerebral edema. Workers exposed to tributyltin reported to have suffered from dermatitis. Long chains alkyl and aryl tin are poorly absorbed and are less dangerous but still they are classified as neurotoxin.

So, why are organotin compounds toxic?

Organotin compounds are known to penetrate cell membranes due to its lipophilicity and causes damage to cell membrane, interrupt oxidative phosphylation and damage mitochondria. They can inhibit synthesis of heme oxygenase and can be immunotoxic and genotoxic. It is also reported that they are known to have carcinogenic or tetratogenic effect although not proved. You can read more on the adverse effect of organotin compounds on human body by reading paper 3 and 4.


  1. CHAPTER 42 - Tin, ELENA A.OSTRAKHOVITCHM. GEORGECHERIAN, Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals (Third Edition) 2007, Pages 839-859, DOI: 10.1016/B978-012369413-3/50097-5.
  2. Organotin Compounds Toxicity: Focus on Kidney, Carolina Monteiro de Lemos Barbosa, Fernanda Magalhães Ferrão and imageJones B. Graceli, Front. Endocrinol., 22 May 2018 | DOI: 10.3389/fendo.2018.00256
  3. Toxicity of organotin compounds: Shared and unshared biochemical targets and mechanisms in animal cells, Alessandra Pagliarani, Salvatore Nesci, VittoriaVentrella, Toxicology in Vitro, Volume 27, Issue 2, March 2013, Pages 978-990, DOI: 10.1016/j.tiv.2012.12.002

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