Pentachlorophenol (PCP)

EPA Maximum
Contaminant Level (MCL)
0.001 mg/L

PCP is used primarily as a fungicide in wood treatment.

Pentachlorophenol (PCP) is an organic chemical used primarily as a fungicide to preserve wood. It has also been used as an herbicide, a disinfectant and in leather and textile applications, though these uses have been banned in the United States since 1987.

PCP generally arrives in drinking water through runoff from wood treatment factories.

Health Effects of Pentachlorophenol

According to the World Health Organization, acute PCP poisoning can cause “central nervous system disorders, dyspnoea, and hyperpyrexia, leading to cardiac arrest.” The EPA lists effects of long term exposure including an increased risk of cancer, liver and kidney problems:

Some people who drink water containing pentachlorophenol well in excess of the maximum contaminant level [0.001 milligrams per Liter] for many years could experience problems with their liver or kidneys and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

Water Treatment for Pentachlorophenol

The EPA recommends granular activated carbon (GAC) for the treatment of pentachlorophenol.

Sources: EPA, WHO, Photo: WikiMedia, author: Vermont Timber Works Inc.

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