Fact Sheet: Chlorobenzene


Brief Overview:
Contaminant: Chlorobenzene
Category: Organic
MCL: 100 PPB
Source: Manufacture of other organic chemicals; solvent
Effect: Liver, kidney and central nervous system damage
Followup: Treat and retest quarterly
Treatment: Granular activated charcoal

Chlorobenzene is a colorless organic liquid with a faint, almond-like odor. The greatest use of chlorobenzene is in the manufacture of other organic chemicals, dyestuffs and insecticides. It is also a solvent for adhesives, drugs, rubber, paints and dry-cleaning, and as a fiber-swelling agent in textile processing.

Production of chlorobenzene in 1988 was 270 million pounds, and was expected to decrease. Major environmental releases of chlorobenzene are due to its use as a solvent in pesticides.
From 1987 to 1993, according to EPA’s Toxic Chemical Release Inventory, chlorobenzene releases to water totalled over 326,000 lbs. Releases to land totalled nearly 37,000 lbs. These releases were primarily from alkali and chlorine industries which use chlorobenzene in chlorination processes. Most of these releases occurred in West Virginia.

What happens to Chlorobenzene when it is released to the environment? Releases into water and onto land will either evaporate or be slowly degraded by microbes in the soil or water. Since it does not bind to soils, it can be expected to leach into the groundwater. Little accumulation is expected in fish and food products.

Short-term: EPA has found chlorobenzene to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: anesthetic effects and impaired liver and kidney function.
Long-term: Chlorobenzene has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: liver, kidney and central nervous system damage.

Treat and retest quarterly.

Granular activated charcoal in combination with Packed Tower Aeration.