1,2,3-Trichloropropane is a synthetic chemical that is also known as allyl trichloride, glycerol trichlorohydrin, and trichlorohydrin. It is a colorless, heavy liquid with a sweet but strong odor. It evaporates very quickly and small amounts dissolve in water. It is mainly used to make other chemicals. Some of it is also used as an industrial solvent, paint and varnish remover, and cleaning and degreasing agent. Very little information is available on the amounts manufactured and the specific uses.

Structural diagram: National Institutes of Health

Fate & Transport

It breaks down in the atmosphere when exposed to sunlight.

Every 15 days, half of the amount of 1,2,3-trichloropropane present in the air breaks down.

It evaporates from surface water and surface soil.

It leaches from deeper soil into the groundwater where it slowly breaks down.

There is very little evaporation from groundwater, so 1,2,3-trichloropropane can stay in groundwater for a long time.

Very little sticks to soil particles.

It is not expected to build up in fish or plants.

Exposure Pathways

Breathing low levels in the air

Drinking low levels in water

Drinking contaminated well water from wells near hazardous waste sites

Touching liquids or soil that contain 1,2,3-trichloropropane

Working in a facility where 1,2,3-trichloropropane is used.

Health Effects

Exposure to high levels of 1,2,3-trichloropropane for a short time causes eye and throat irritation. People exposed to 100 parts of 1,2,3-trichloropropane per million parts of air (ppm) felt irritation, and some people exposed to 50 ppm for an 8-hour workday also had throat and eye irritation. We don't know what would happen to someone who breathed low levels for a long time. We also don't know what happens to people who swallow it or get it on their skin.

Rats and mice died after breathing air containing 1,2,3-trichloropropane at levels higher than we have in the environment. When rats breathed it at levels lower than those that irritated humans, they developed eye, nose, and lung irritation, and liver and kidney disease. The main health effect in both animals and people is damage to the respiratory system.

When rats swallowed 1,2,3-trichloropropane at high levels, they died from liver and kidney damage. When exposed to moderate levels that did not cause death, the rats had minor liver and kidney damage, blood disorders, and stomach irritation.

When it was applied to the skin of rabbits, it caused severe irritation followed by injury to internal organs. This happened only when large amounts were applied to the skin.

We do not know if 1,2,3-trichloropropane damages people's ability to reproduce or if it causes birth defects. When rats breathed low levels for several weeks or swallowed a large amount for a few days there were no effects on their ability to reproduce and there was no increase in birth defects.

The Department of Health and Human Services, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not classified 1,2,3-trichloropropane for carcinogenicity. We do not know whether 1,2,3-trichloropropane causes cancer in humans, but animals that swallowed low doses for most of their lives developed tumors in several organs.

1,2,3-Trichloropropane can be measured in your blood, urine, and breath. However, it breaks down quickly and leaves your body in your breath, urine, and feces. The test cannot measure how much you have been exposed to or whether your health will be affected. The test requires special methods and equipment and is not usually available at your doctor's office.

Information excerpted from:

Toxicological Profile for 1,2,3-Trichloropropane

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services