Agent Name


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Major Category

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CLASSES; Monochlorophenols (MCPs); Dichlorophenols (DCPs); Trichlorophenols (T3CPs); Tetrachlorophenols (T4CPs); Pentachlorophenol (PCP);




All solid at room temperature except for 2-chlorophenol; [Ullmann] The sodium and potassium salts of chlorophenols are up to 4 orders of magnitude more soluble in water; [Reference #1]


Used as antimicrobials (biocides, fungicides, insecticides, ovicides, algicides) and herbicides; Used as preservatives for wood, glue, paint, vegetable fibers, leather, and furs; Also used to make pharmaceuticals and dyes; [Ullmann] Used in pressure-treatment of wood and in surface treatment of logs, railroad ties, telephone poles, and lumber; Lower chlorophenols were used to make pesticides such as 2,4,5-T; Released into the environment from chlorine bleaching in pulp and paper manufacturing, water treatment, and municipal waste incineration; [Reference #1]


May be contaminated with dioxins and furans; Higher chlorinated compounds, e.g., tri-, tetra-, and pentachlorophenols are less likely to cause seizures and more likely to cause hyperthermia (uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation); Lower chlorinated compounds, e.g., dichlorophenols, less likely to cause hyperthermia and more likely to cause seizures; Lower chlorinated phenols (all except pentachlorophenol) cause chemical burns on prolonged contact; Skin exposure can be lethal, e.g., 2,4-dichlorophenol to just 10% of body surface area; Other toxic effects in poisoning causes include metabolic acidosis and injury to the liver and kidneys; [HSDB] High doses may cause convulsions and injury to the liver and kidneys; Tetra- and pentachlorophenols can cause uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation; [Ullmann] Pentachlorophenol does not appear to be a primary neurotoxin; [Sullivan, p. 1257] Pentachlorophenol is 40 times more toxic as an uncoupler than 2,4-dichlorophenol; Commercial mono- and dichlorophenols contain little or no detectable dioxins or furans; What we know of human effects are based primarily on studies of workers in chemical manufacturing (dichlorophenols and trichlorophenols) and wood-preservation applicators (trichlorophenols, tetrachlorophenols, and pentachlorophenol); MCPs, DCPs, and 2,4,6-T3CP are convulsive agents; The other T3CPs and T4CPs are not; All of the chlorophenols are irritating or corrosive to the skin; The dioxins and furans that contaminate tri-, tetra-, and pentachlorophenol are probably the causal agents of chloracne; [Reference #1] "Combined exposures to polychlorophenols or to their sodium salts are possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B). [IARC]

Adverse Effects

Other CNS Neurotoxin


Hepatotoxin, Secondary



Other Poison




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Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent: