Fact sheet: 1,2,3-trichlorobenzene

From: Public Services and Procurement Canada

Discover a list of a contaminant's important chemical properties, how it will react in the environment, main sources of contamination related, and a brief overview of health and safety issues.

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General information

CAS number


Molecular formula


Formula weight

181.5 g/mol



Properties (at room temperature where applicable)

Compound properties list
Melting/boiling point54 °CSolid
Relative density1.69 g/cm3Sinks in water
Vapour pressure2 mm HgModerately volatile
Vapour density0N/A
Solubility in water15 mg/LLow solubility
Henry's law constant2 x 10-3atm·m3/molRapid volatilization when dissolved
log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)3.2 - 4.0*Strong adsorption to organic matter

Environmental behaviour

At 20 0C, 1,2,3-trichlorobenzene is a moderately volatile solid. Characterized by low solubility, it will volatilize rapidly when it is dissolved and adsorbs strongly to organic matter. When present in soil, this compound will volatilize and solubilize slowly. Once dissolved, it will either enter into the groundwater table or drain towards a waterway, where it will be diluted before volatilizing. Fragments of 1,2,3-trichlorobenzene can also be carried into a waterway and deposited at the bottom, where they will dissolve slowly. Once the source has been removed, the adsorbed 1,2-dichlorobenzene will take a long time to disappear, liberating contamination in either the gaseous or dissolved state. The resulting plumes (gaseous or dissolved) will be relatively small in size.

Health and safety

1,2,3-trichlorobenzene should be handled with care, as it is toxic.

Principal resources

Although there are currently no producers of trichlorobenzenes in Canada, an estimated 40 to 50 tonnes per year were imported during the mid-1990s. Of this amount, about 30 tonnes were used as solvents in textile manufacturing, and about 15 tonnes were used as intermediates in the production of other chemicals.

In the past, trichlorobenzenes were used in combination with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in dielectric fluids for transformers and capacitors until 1980 when regulations prohibited new uses of PCB-containing dielectric fluids. Approximately 2,600,000 tonnes of trichlorobenzenes are present in transformer dielectric fluids either in use or stored before disposal. In the United States, trichlorobenzenes are also used as degreasing agents and lubricants.

1,2,3-trichlorobenzene is used industrially as a dye carrier, an intermediate in chemical production (especially herbicides), a degreasing agent, and a lubricant. Trichlorobenzene isomers have been identified in pulp and paper mill effluents. Effluents from iron and steel manufacturing contribute to the environmental loading of trichlorobenzenes, while petroleum refinery effluents have been reported to contain trichlorobenzene isomers. The more highly chlorinated benzenes, particularly hexachlorobenzene, are subject to reductive dechlorination, which may contribute to the accumulation of the lower chlorinated homologues (example, dichlorobenzenes and trichlorobenzenes) in buried sediments.


Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). 1999. Canadian water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life: Chlorinated benzenes 1,2,3-Trichlorobenzene. In: Canadian environmental quality guidelines, 1999, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Winnipeg. Canada. (Viewed December 2013)

Government of Canada. 1993. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Priority Substances List Assessment Report: Trichlorobenzenes. Environment Canada and Health Canada Ottawa. (Viewed December 2013)

Environment Canada. 2003. Follow-up report on five PSL1 substances for which there was insufficient information to conclude whether the substances constitute a danger to the environment. Government of Canada. (Viewed December 2013)

Montgomery, John H. 2007. Groundwater Chemicals, Desk Reference, Fourth Edition, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Florida, U.S.A.