Pentachlorophenol usually occurs as a grey brown powder, beads or flakes. It has a sharp chemical odour when hot but is almost odourless at room temperature. Pentachlorophenol is insoluble in water but dissolves readily in organic solvents, fats and oils. It is broken down in air and surface water by sunlight.
Pentachlorophenol is used as a wood preservative, biocide on masonry and in heavy-duty textiles to prevent fungal and bacterial attack. Use of pentachlorophenol is restricted to industrial facilities. Treated wood cannot be used inside buildings or in materials which might come into contact with human or animal foodstuff.
The major sources of release of pentachlorophenol are from treated timber/masonry, spillage during treatment or releases during manufacture, storage or transport. Pentachlorophenol might be imported with timber, leather and textiles from foreign countries. There are no natural sources of release to the environment.
Impacts on human health and environment
Excessive exposure to pentachlorophenol and its compounds may cause health effects on the blood, brain, digestive system, eye, heart, immune system, kidney, liver, lung, reproductive system, skin, thyroid and the unborn child, and may cause cancer.
Pentachlorophenol is toxic to wildlife and may bioaccumulate. Harm to animals and wildlife populations may result from releases of pentachlorophenol in large quantities.
Pentachlorophenol is subject to a review for identification as priority hazardous substance under the Water Framework Directive.
Emission to air reporting threshold: 10 kg/year
Data source: European Pollutant Emission Register