Potential Symptoms: Ingestion Acute; Headache, nausea, vomiting; loss of sensory perception, numbness of hands and arms, partial paralysis of arms and legs, loss of muscle control; apprehension, excitement, tremors, convulsions, coma; Ingestion Chronic (delayed symptoms): Porphyrinuria (red or dark urine); enlarged liver; goiter (enlarged thyroid); loss of appetite; photosensitivity, bullae (large blisters), severe mutilating scars, hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin), hirsutism (excessive hair); relatively painless arthritic changes, osteoporosis in hand bones, small hands; weakness, paresthesia, myotonia (temporary failure of muscle relaxation), cogwheeling (jerkiness of muscle contraction). In nursing infants: weakness, pink sores, convulsions, death.
Health Effects: Nervous System Disturbances (HE7); Chronic Toxicity---Liver, Thyroid, Skin, Developmental Toxicity, Death of Nursing Infants (HE3).
Affected Organs: CNS, liver, reproductive system (ovaries), thyroid, skin, bone
OSHA does not have a PEL for hexachlorobenzene.
Hexachlorobenzene is an OSHA Select Carcinogen.
Infants and children may be more susceptible than adults to the neurotoxicity of hexachlorobenzene, and symptoms of toxicity may persist for more than 30 years.
CYP3A4 is one of the cytochrome P450s that biotransform hexachlorobenzene to pentachlorophenol, which can be further metabolized to the reactive metabolite, tetrachlorohydroquinone. Most hexachlorobenzene, however, is slowly excreted unchanged in the feces over a period of years.
EPA's oral reference dose (daily oral exposure likely to be without an appreciable risk of deleterious effects during a lifetime) for hexachlorobenzene is 0.0008 mg/kg/day.
Hexachlorobenzene should not be confused with benzene hexachloride (hexachlorocyclohexane), the gamma isomer of which is known as the pesticide lindane.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): Toxicological profile for hexachlorobenzene. Atlanta: ATSDR, 2002, 357 pp.
EPA Air Toxics Website: Hexachlorobenzene. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Technology Transfer Network.
Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Hexachlorobenzene. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 1234-1236.
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