Class: Chlorinated Hydrocarbons

Chemical Name: Molecular Makeup:



Sources: Hexachlorobenzene, a chemical on the EPA’s “dirty dozen” list, was a seed-treatment fungicide banned under the Stockholm Convention. It is also produced as a byproduct of chemical production, including solvents and pesticides.

Transport Vectors: Hexachlorobenzene both persists and cumulates in lipid tissue and biomagnifies up the food chain as a result. Its water solubility is nil. Its half-life in soil is 3-6 years and .63 to 6.28 years in air and annual average uptake is estimated at 1 ug/kg via food and .01 ug/kg via inhalation. It was found in all 3,979 people in a CDC study. [1][10]

Sample Concentration Levels

Abiotic Media:





Lake Ontario Drinking Water mean: .1 ppt [3]
France Rainfall
2.5 – 4.5 ng/L
Urban: 1.8 – 17 ng/L [5]
Uncontrolled Waste site, Bayou Baton Rouge: 8,100,000 ppb [7]

11 of 1,485 agricultural sites, US, 1972: 10 – 440 ppb
1 of 1,470 sites, 1973: 10 ppb
2 of 391 sites, 1976: 10 – 20 ppb [9]
Uncontrolled Waste site well, Baton Rouge: 400,000 ppb [7]

Villeroy, Quebec Median: 36.68 pg/m3
30.94 pg/m3[2]
Egbert, Ontario Min: .04 pg/m3
Max: 640 pg/m3
Mean: 54 pg/m3 [4]
Industrial Plant: 150,000 ng/m3 [6]

Great Lakes Surface Sediment: 270 ppb
1-2 cm deep: 460 ppb [3]
Lake Ladoga, Russia: (in 2 of 12 samples) 3.58 & 14.6 ng/g [8]

Biotic Media:

Fish/Sea Life (max, ppb wet weight)


Other Marine Life


Texas Sea Catfish: 913
Louisiana Catfish:
Louisiana Carp:
Connecticut White Sucker:
Louisiana Sea Catfish:
75 [11]

NY State avian muscle, ppb: Buffleheads: 64 Scaups: 49
Mallards: 26
Black Ducks: 20
Canada Geese: 11 [12]
Great Lakes Eggs, Cormorant: 8 – 36 ng/g, wet [13]

Snapping Turtle Eggs:
Lynde Creek, 1984:
70 ng/g
60 ng/g
Cootes Paradise, 1984:
350 ng/g
170 ng/g [14]
Porpoise Blubber:
223 – 1,070 ng/g wet [15]

Oils and Fats, mean: .9 ppb
Meat, poultry, fish mean: .2 ppb [16]
Positive food samples by FDA in total diet, 1988: 7%
1989: 5%
1990: 4%
1991: 2%
1994: <2% [17]


Blood Serum (US):

Blood Serum (World):

Fat Tissue, ng/g:

Breastmilk, ug/g:

Sport Fish Consumers, Great Lakes Min: .09 ppb
Max: 0.2 ppb
Median: 0.1 ppb [18]

German pregnant women, active smokers, ng/mL: .87
Passive smokers:.55
Nonsmokers: .46 [20]

US National Survey: 0 – 1,300 ppb
California womens’ Breast tissue, ng/g:
14 – 170
Median: 46 [19]

Brazil: .02 [21]
Quebec Inuits:.136
Quebec Whites: .028 [22]
Madrid, Spain: 1.0
Industrial Madrid:
1.74 [23]

Most hexachlorobenzene monitoring has focused on the Great Lakes regions where they were most commonly produced.

Health effects:

LD50 (rat): 10,000 mg/kg

LD50 (mice): 4,000 mg/kg
Inhalation LC50 (rat): 3600 mg/m3

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 2002. Toxicological profile for Hexachlorobenzene. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Poissant L, Koprivnjak JF, Mattieu R. 1997. Some persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals in the atmosphere over a St. Lawrence River Vally site (Villeroy) in 1992. Chemosphere 34(3):567-585.
  3. Oliver BG, Nicol KD. 1982a. Chlorobenzenes in sediments, water, and selected fish from Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Environ Sci Technol 16:532-536.
  4. Hoff RM, Strachan MJ, Sweet CW, et al. 1996. Atmospheric deposition of toxic chemicals to the Great Lakes: A review of data through 1994. Atmos Environ 30(20):3505-3527.
  5. Chevreuil M, Garmouma M, Teil MJ, et al. 1996. Occurrence of organochlorines (PCBs, pesticides) and herbicides (Triazines, phenylureas) in the atmosphere and in the fallout form urban and rural stations of the Paris area. Sci Total Environ 182:25-37.
  6. Currier MF, McClimans CD, Barna-Lloyd G. 1980. Hexachlorobenzene blood levels and the health status of men employed in the manufacture of chlorinated solvents. J Toxicol Environ Health 6:367-377.
  7. Davis BD, Morgan RC. 1986. Hexachlorobenzene in hazardous waste sites. IARC Sci Publ 77:23-30.
  8. Ristola T, Pellinen J, Van Hoof PL, et al. 1996. Characterization of Lake Ladoga sediments. II. Toxic chemicals. Chemosphere 32(6):1179-1192.
  9. EPA. 1985g. Environmental exposure to hexachlorobenzene in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances. TS-769-c.
  11. EPA. 1992b. “National study of chemical residues in fish.” and “Guidance for assessing chemical contaminants data for use in fish advisories.” 2 Volumes. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Office of Science and Technology. EPA-823-R-92-008a and -008b.
  12. Foley RE. 1992. Organochlorine residues in New York waterfowl harvested by hunters in 1983-1984. Environ Monit Assess 21:37-48.
  13. Somers JD, Goski BC, Barbeau JM, et al. 1993. Accumulation of organochlorine contaminants in double-crested cormorants. Environ Pollut 80(1):17-23.
  14. Bishop CA, Ng P, Norstrom RJ, et al. 1996. Temporal and geographic variation of organochlorine residues in eggs of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) (1981-1991) and comparisons to trends in the herring gull (Larus argentatus) in the Great Lakes Basin in Ontario, Canada. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 31:512-524.
  15. Becker PR, Mackey EA, Demiralp R, et al. 1997. Concentrations of chlorinated hydrocarbons and trace elements in marine mammal tissues archived in the U.S. National Biomonitoring Specimen Bank. Chemosphere 34:2067-2098.
  16. Gartrell MJ, Craun JC, Podrebarac DS, et al. 1986. Pesticides, selected elements, and other chemicals in infant and toddler total diet samples, October 1980 -March 1982. J Assoc Off Anal Chem 69:123-145.
  17. FDA. 1995. Residue monitoring, 1994 (8th annual FDA pesticide residue monitoring program report). J AOAC Int 78(5):119A-142A.
  18. Anderson HA, Falk C, Hanrahan L, et al. 1998. Profiles of Great Lakes critical pollutants: A sentinel analysis of human blood and urine. Env Health Persp 106(5):279-289.
  19. Petreas M, She J, Visita P, et al. 1998. Levels of PCDD/PCDFs, PCBs and OC pesticides in breast adipose of women enrolled in a California breast cancer study. Organohalogen Compounds 38:37-40.
  20. Lackmann GM, Angerer J, Tollner U. 2000. Parental smoking and neonatal serum levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and hexachlorobenzene. Pediatr Res 47(5):598-601.
  21. Beretta M, Dick T. 1994. Organochlorine compounds in human milk, porto alegre, Brazil. Environmental Contamination Toxicology 53(3):357-360.
  22. Dewailly E, Ayotte P, Bruneau S, et al. 1993. Inuit exposure to organochlorines through the aquatic food chain in arctic Quebec. Environ Health Persp 101(7):618-620.
  23. Conde C, Maluenda C, Arrabal C. 1993. Organochlorine residues in human milk in Spain. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from 1988 to 1991. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 51:832-837.