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Australia - Final Regulatory Action
Hexachlorobenzene CAS number:
Date circular:

Chemical name: Benzene, hexachloro-

Final regulatory action has been taken for the category: Industrial

Final regulatory action: The chemical is Severely Restricted

Use or uses prohibited by the final regulatory action:

Existing regulatory controls in place restrict the import and use of hexachlorobenzene (HCB). Since 2004, the import of hexachlorobenzene is prohibited in accordance with Schedule 9 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. HCB was listed on the Inventory until February 2023 and while on the Inventory the manufacture of HCB as an industrial chemical was authorised under the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019. However, AICIS has no evidence of the manufacture or export of HCB since 2004. State and territory environment protection regulators also provide further restrictions within facility licensing and waste disposal frameworks.
As HCB has now been removed from the Inventory it cannot be introduced under the listed category. This has the effect of strengthening previous restrictions that were in place for the chemical.

Use or uses that remain allowed:

Introduction of up to 100 kg per annum of hexachlorobenzene (HCB) as an industrial chemical for use solely in research or analysis remains allowed under the Stockholm Convention. If introduced for this use, it cannot be made available to the public, and appropriate procedures and safety controls must be in place to eliminate or minimise the risks from the introduction to persons involved in the research, and the environment.

The final regulatory action was based on a risk or hazard evaluation: Yes

Summary of the final regulatory action:

Consistent with requirements under the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019, sections 95, 159(2), the Executive Director of the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) declares that:
Benzene, hexachloro (CAS RN 118-74-1) was removed from the Australian Inventory of Industrial Chemicals on 8 February 2023.
The import of this chemical into Australia has been prohibited since 2004, under Schedule 9 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. AICIS has no evidence for the manufacture or export of HCB in Australia since this time. Removal from the Australian Inventory of Industrial Chemicals (Inventory) introduces severe restrictions on the manufacture and use of this chemical in addition to the prohibition of import. Under Australian legislation this chemical is severely restricted as defined in the Rotterdam Convention.

The reasons for the final regulatory action were relevant to: Human health and environment

Summary of known hazards and risks to human health:

Adverse effects reported in various animal species following subchronic and chronic oral exposure to hexachlorobenzene (HCB) have been associated with the liver, kidneys, ovary, and central nervous system. Other effects reported include skin lesions (porphyria cutanea tarda); alteration in porphyrin metabolism (porphyria); behavioural changes; altered thyroid functions and serum levels of thyroid hormones; renal effects; and changes in calcium homeostasis and bone morphometry. In animal studies, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and induction of cancer were reported following repeated exposure to HCB. The chemical is expected to be readily absorbed following oral exposure from contaminated water, food, soil or breast milk through the digestive tract. HCB can also be absorbed through the lungs to a lesser extent. The IARC, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) have all concluded that HCB is an animal carcinogen and probably a human carcinogen.
There are potential risks to public and workers based on the human health effects of HCB and secondary exposure from the environment, through introduction by manufacture, and the subsequent use of the chemical. Although, currently in Australia it is reported that the chemical is not manufactured or imported, the chemical may be introduced unintentionally during manufacture of other chemicals. HCB may also be present as an impurity in products containing phthalocyanine pigments and isophorone.

Expected effect of the final regulatory action in relation to human health:

The expected effect of the final regulatory action is that it will enhance legal clarity, reducing the potential risk posed by hexachlorobenzene to human health.

Summary of known hazards and risks to the environment:

Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) meets the persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport, and potential for adverse effects criteria of Annex D of the Stockholm Convention. It has been listed in Annexes A and C of the Convention since 2004. As a Persistent Organic Pollutant, HCB is highly hazardous to the environment.
Classification of the environmental hazards of HCB was not conducted in this evaluation.
HCB is not actively used in Australia. It may be present as an impurity in some industrial chemical products. Sources of HCB emission to the Australian environment from historical uses may include:
direct emissions to air from the incomplete combustion of solid organic wastes in open landfills and municipal incinerators
landfill leachates of waste materials from the manufacture of chlorinated solvents and chlorinated pesticides
diffuse emissions from agricultural fields that result from either former application of HCB as a fungicide or impurities present in currently used chlorinated pesticides (for example, chlorothalonil, quintozene)
Risks to the environment: There are significant long term risks to the environment from the introduction and use of the chemical, including from introduction in articles.

Expected effect of the final regulatory action in relation to the environment:

The expected effect of the final regulatory action is that it will reduce the potential risk posed by hexachlorobenzene to the environment.

Date of entry into force of the final regulatory action: 08/02/2023