chemical information


Chemical Class:

Organochlorine Pesticide (OC)

Found in these people:

Monique Harden

Found in these locations:

New Orleans, LA


Most of the studies investigating the effects of pentachlorophenol (PCP) on humans involve high dose exposures. Reported effects include irritation of the skin (such as dermatitis, skin burn, allergies, acne), respiratory tract, and eyes (including corneal damage), and liver and kidney toxicity. Fatal exposures are preceded by sweating, fatigue, thirst, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased heart rate, heart palpitations, coma and death in 3 to 30 hours. Other effects include immune suppression, and alterations in thyroid, adrenal and reproductive hormone levels. Developmental exposure to pentachlorophenol is known to adversely effect humans. Accidental exposure in newborn children via contaminated diapers and bedding, where pentachlorophenol was used as an anti-mildew agent in the hospital laundry, was associated with effects on the liver, nervous system, respiration, and caused death (ATSDR 2001).

In laboratory animals, pentachlorophenol causes toxic effects in the liver (tumors, increased weight, cellular effects, altered liver enzymes), kidney (increased weight, cellular effects), lung (increased weight, cellular effects), adrenal gland (tumors), spleen (tumors) and skin (edema, inflammation, pigmentation). Neurological effects include central nervous system depression, motor weakness, tremors and convulsions. Other effects include body weight loss, hyperthermia, increased respiration, high blood pressure, increased blood glucose, increased cholesterol, cellular changes of the bile duct and possible immune systems effects. PCP also causes hypothyroidism. Developmental effects include fetal death, decreased body weight, and malformations such as dwarfism and brain anomalies (ATSDR 2001; OEHHA 1997b).


Organochlorine chemical, a class largely banned in the U.S. that builds up in the body over time, linked to cancer and reproductive harm.

Pentachlorophenol has been found in 1 of the 9 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. It has also been found in 794 of the 5,277 people tested in CDC biomonitoring studies.

Top health concerns for Pentachlorophenol (References)

health concern or target organ weight of evidence
Reproduction and fertilityunknown

Results for Pentachlorophenol

in urine

Showing results from EWG/Commonweal Study #1, industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults

EWG/Commonweal results

  • found in 1 of 9 people in the group
ppb in urine 1.4

Pentachlorophenol results

Detailed toxicity classifications (References)

classification governing entity/references
Reproductive effects - weight of evidence unknown/unassessedDamgaard, I. N., N. E. Skakkebaek, et al. (2006). Persistent pesticides in human breast milk and cryptorchidism. Environ Health Perspect 114(7): 1133-8.