Pollutant Information: Hexachlorobenzene 

About Hexachlorobenzene

Category: Air pollutants

Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) is an organochloride. It is formed as a by-product during the manufacture of other chemicals. It was widely used as a fungicide. Due to HCB's persistence in the environment, it has been banned globally under the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. Very little information is available on the health effects of HCB via inhalation. However, the lungs may be affected by repeated or prolonged exposure. It is also considered to be a possible carcinogen. The most significant sources of HCB emissions in 1990 no longer occur in the UK, and emissions as a result have reduced by over 99% between 1990 and 2016.  By far the largest source of emissions for the years 1990-1998 was related to the use of hexachloroethane (HCE) in the aluminium industry, however the sector stopped using HCE after 1998 so HCB emissions from this source were eliminated from 1999 onwards. The last remaining production plant for chlorinated solvents closed in 2009, and so emissions from this major source also ended then.  As these once-important sources have disappeared other sources, such as the burning of municipal solid waste (MSW) and the use of certain agrochemicals, have been left to become the main UK sources, accounting for 68% and 29% of emissions in 2016 respectively.  In 1990, though the emissions from the same two sectors were almost four times as high as they now are, they contributed just 4% to the total emissions.

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Time series graph


Notable events

Start year End year Sector Information Impact
1999 1999 Metal Production Abatement and change of process for secondary aluminium production Decrease in emissions
1990 1993 Chemical Industry Abatement and change of process for production of chemicals Decrease in emissions