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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/benzotrichloride-incident-management/benzotrichloride-general-information
Benzotrichloride is a colourless to yellow oily liquid with a pungent odour. It is a member of a chemical group known as chlorinated toluenes.
Benzotrichloride is mainly used as an intermediate in the production of dyes and in the industrial production of other chemical intermediates such as benzoylchloride and benzotrifluoride. These chemical intermediates are used in the production of pesticides and pharmaceuticals.
It may be released into the environment during its production and use. However, it does not persist as it is rapidly broken down in the environment.
Exposure to benzotrichloride can occur via breathing in the vapours, ingestion or via skin contact. For the general public the potential for exposure to benzotrichloride is likely to be low as it does not persist in the environment.
Exposure is more likely to occur in the workplace.
The presence of benzotrichloride in the environment does not always lead to exposure. In order for it to cause any adverse health effects you must come into contact with it. You may be exposed to benzotrichloride by breathing or drinking it, or by skin contact. Following exposure to any chemical, the adverse health effects you may encounter depend on several factors, including the amount to which you are exposed (dose), the way you are exposed, the duration of exposure, the form of the chemical and if you were exposed to any other chemicals.
Breathing in benzotrichloride vapours can cause irritation to the nose and throat. In severe cases lung damage can occur.
Ingestion of benzotrichloride can cause stomach upset. Digestive tract burns can occur in severe cases.
Skin contact with benzotrichloride can cause irritation and burns.
Eye exposure to benzotrichloride may result in irritation. In severe cases damage to the eye can occur.
Studies show that benzotrichloride causes cancer in experimental animals but there is not enough data available to assess the ability of benzotrichloride alone to cause cancer in humans. However, studies in workers have shown that combined exposures to chlorinated toluenes (such as benzotrichloride) and another chemical called benzoyl chloride may cause cancer in humans. This mixture of chemicals is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as probably having the ability to cause cancer in humans. Exposure to these chemicals is most likely to occur in the workplace.
There is limited data available on the direct effects of exposure to benzotrichloride during pregnancy. Therefore, it’s not possible to draw any definitive conclusions. Effects on the unborn child are more likely to occur if the exposure to benzotrichloride causes the mother to become unwell.
Individuals with breathing problems such as asthmatics may be more sensitive to the effects of inhaling benzotrichloride. This is because it can cause irritation of the airways leading to chest tightness, wheezing and breathlessness.
Children exposed to benzotrichloride would be expected to show the same symptoms as adults.
It is very unlikely that the general population will be exposed to a level of benzotrichloride high enough to cause adverse health effects. However, if you have any health concerns regarding exposure to benzotrichloride seek guidance from your GP or contact NHS 111.
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The information contained in this document from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Radiation, Chemicals and Environment Directorate is correct at the time of its publication.
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