p-Dichlorobenzene FACT SHEET
MCL: 75 PPB
Source: Manufacturing, insecticide and fungicide, deodorant
Effect: Nausea, headaches, anemia, liver blood damage
Followup: Treat and retest quarterly
Treatment: Granular activated charcoal
Para-dichlorobenzene (p-DCB) is an organic solid of white crystals with a mothball-like odor. It is used mainly as an insecticidal fumigant against clothes moths and as a deodorant for garbage and restrooms. It is also used as an insecticide and fungicide on crops, and in the manufacture of other organic chemicals and in plastics, dyes, pharmaceuticals.
74 million lbs. of p-DCB were consumed by industry in 1986, and demand was predicted to increase. Chemical waste dump leachates and direct manufacturing effluents are reported to be the major source of p-DCB pollution in Lake Ontario.
From 1987 to 1993, according to the Toxic Release Inventory, p-DCB releases to water totalled almost 34,000 lbs. Releases to land totalled nearly 4,500 lbs. These releases were primarily from a single chemical manufacturing plant in West Virginia.
What happens to p-DCB when it is released to the environment? p-DCB only moderately binds to soil so it may leach to ground water. Otherwise, it will evaporate and be slowly broken down by microbes. If released to water, it will largely evaporate. p-DCB is not likely to accumulate in most aquatic life, though it may in some fishes.
Short-term: EPA has found p-DCB to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: nausea, vomiting, headaches, and irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract.
Long-term: p-DCB has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: anemia, skin lesions, appetite loss, damage to liver and changes in blood.
Treat and retest quarterly.
Granular activated charcoal in combination with Packed Tower Aeration.