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Water: Basic Information about Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants

Basic Information about p-Dichlorobenzene in Drinking Water

p-Dichlorobenzene at a Glance

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) = 0.075 milligrams per Liter (mg/L) or 75 parts per billion (ppb)

Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) = 0.075 mg/L or 75 ppb

Health Effects
Some people who drink water containing p-dichlorobenzene in excess of the MCL over many years could experience anemia; damage to their liver, kidneys or spleen; or changes in their blood.

Drinking Water Health Advisories provide more information on health effects

Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number

Sources of Contamination
Discharge from industrial chemical factories

List of all Regulated Contaminants (PDF) (6 pp, 396 K, About PDF)

EPA regulates p-dichlorobenzene in drinking water to protect public health. p-Dichlorobenzene may cause health problems if present in public or private water supplies in amounts greater than the drinking water standard set by EPA.

What is p-dichlorobenzene?
para-Dichlorobenzene is an organic solid of white crystals with a mothball-like odor.

Uses for p-dichlorobenzene.
p-Dichlorobenzene is used mainly as an insecticidal fumigant against clothes moths and as a deodorant for garbage and restrooms. It is also used as an insecticide and fungicide on crops, and in the manufacture of other organic chemicals and in plastics, dyes, and pharmaceuticals.

If you are concerned about p-Dichlorobenzene in a private well, please visit:

What are p-dichlorobenzene's health effects?
Some people who drink water containing p-dichlorobenzene well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could experience anemia; damage to their liver, kidneys or spleen; or changes in their blood.

This health effects language is not intended to catalog all possible health effects for p-dichlorobenzene. Rather, it is intended to inform consumers of some of the possible health effects associated with p-dichlorobenzene in drinking water when the rule was finalized.

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What are EPA's drinking water regulations for p-dichlorobenzene?
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur. These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks and exposure over a lifetime with an adequate margin of safety, are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG). Contaminants are any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substances or matter in water.

The MCLG for p-dichlorobenzene is 0.075 mg/L or 75 ppb. EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. EPA has set an enforceable regulation for p-dichlorobenzene, called a maximum contaminant level (MCL), at 0.075 mg/L or 75 ppb. MCLs are set as close to the health goals as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies. In this case, the MCL equals the MCLG, because analytical methods or treatment technology do not pose any limitation.

The Phase I Rule, the regulation for p-dichlorobenzene, became effective in 1989. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to periodically review the national primary drinking water regulation for each contaminant and revise the regulation, if appropriate. EPA reviewed p-dichlorobenzene as part of the Six Year Review and determined that the 0.075 mg/L or 75 ppb MCLG and 0.075 mg/L or 75 ppb MCL for p-dichlorobenzene are still protective of human health.

States may set more stringent drinking water MCLGs and MCLs for p-dichlorobenzene than EPA.

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How does p-dichlorobenzene get into my drinking water?
The major source of p-dichlorobenzene in drinking water is discharge from industrial chemical factories.

A federal law called the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) requires facilities in certain industries, which manufacture, process, or use significant amounts of toxic chemicals, to report annually on their releases of these chemicals. For more information on the uses and releases of chemicals in your state, contact the Community Right-to-Know Hotline: (800) 424-9346.

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How will I know if p-dichlorobenzene is in my drinking water?
When routine monitoring indicates that p-dichlorobenzene levels are above the MCL, your water supplier must take steps to reduce the amount of p-dichlorobenzene so that it is below that level. Water suppliers must notify their customers as soon as practical, but no later than 30 days after the system learns of the violation. Additional actions, such as providing alternative drinking water supplies, may be required to prevent serious risks to public health.

If your water comes from a household well, check with your health department or local water systems that use ground water for information on contaminants of concern in your area.

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How will p-dichlorobenzene be removed from my drinking water?
The following treatment method(s) have proven to be effective for removing p-dichlorobenzene to below 0.075 mg/L or 75 ppb: granular activated carbon in combination with packed tower aeration.

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How do I learn more about my drinking water?
EPA strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water, and to support local efforts to protect the supply of safe drinking water and upgrade the community water system. Your water bill or telephone book's government listings are a good starting point for local information.

Contact your water utility. EPA requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual consumer confidence report (CCR) (sometimes called a water quality report) for their customers by July 1 of each year. If your water provider is not a community water system, or if you have a private water supply, request a copy from a nearby community water system.

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