EDTA is a polyamino carboxylic acid. It is a colourless, water soluble solid. It’s conjugate base is named ethylenediaminetetraacetate.
EDTA is best known for its chelating property. It sequesters metal ions such as Ca2+ and Fe3+.
Most applications of EDTA rely on its ability to chelate metal ions. After being bound by EDTA, metal ions remain in solution but exhibit diminished reactivity. Metal ions are necessary for the action of many enzymes including DNases.
In molecular biology laboratories, EDTA is used for the preparation of many solutions including TAE, TBE, DNA loading dye, resuspension buffer (isolation of plasmid), Tris-EDTA, Trypsin-EDTA, etc.
It has been widely used in domestic products like food preservative and cosmetic stabilizer. It is also used extensively to dissolve limescale. Our daily use products like personal care, skin care, processed foods, cosmetic preparations and cleaning products often contains EDTA. It has extensive medical, engineering, agricultural and industrial applications as well.
EDTA applications in medical science (chelation therapy)
Eye drops containing EDTA are used to treat calcium deposits in the eye.
EDTA is sometimes used as an ointment for skin irritations produced by metals such as chromium, nickel, and copper.
EDTA is also used to treat lead poisoning or heavy metal toxicity.