The main method for commercial production of phenol is by peroxidation of cumene (isopropylbenzene) to cumene hydroperoxide, with subsequent cleavage to phenol and acetone. Feedstocks for this process include benzene and propylene. About 7.5 million metric tons of phenol were produced in 2004; worldwide phenol demand is expected to increase 4-6% annually over the next several years. Major uses of phenol include resins, polycarbonate and epoxy plastics, and some grades of nylon. Phenols are also produced as by-products in many industrial processes where organic chemicals are used. Butylated hydroxyl toluene (BHT) is an example of a phenolic antioxidant used as a food additive and preservative.
Chlorinated phenols are used as feedstocks to prepare many dyes, pigments, resins, pesticides, and herbicides. They are also used as flea repellents, fungicides, wood preservatives, mold inhibitors, antiseptics, disinfectants, and antigumming agents in gasoline. Pesticide products prepared from chlorinated phenols include 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxy acetic acid; a major component of Agent Orange), 2,4-dichlorophenol, 2,4,5-trichlorophe-nol, 2,3,4,6-tetrachlorophenol, and PCP.
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