Para-dichlorobenzene toxicity - a review of potential neurotoxic manifestations

Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2014 May;7(3):177-87. doi: 10.1177/1756285614521889.


Background: Para-dichlorobenzene (PDCB) is an active ingredient of mothballs, deodorizers and fumigants. Due to the easy availability of this chemical, there is a considerable risk for accidental or intentional toxic exposure. Recently, multiple cases of PDCB toxicity due to mothball ingestion were reported. PDCB toxicity can affect multiple organ systems including liver, kidneys, skin, lung and the central nervous system (CNS). CNS toxicity often results in leukoencephalopathy and heterogeneous neurological manifestations.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to illustrate the clinical presentation, imaging findings, diagnosis and management of PDCB toxicity.

Methods: We carried out a literature review of the pharmacological and toxicological properties of PDCB.

Conclusions: PDCB and other aromatic hydrocarbons are capable of CNS tissue damage and in promoting functional neurological decline. While very little is currently known about prevalence of PDCB addiction, it cannot be ruled out that its illicit use among young people is under-recognized. The number of cases of PDCB toxicity might also rise due to the increasing industrial and domestic use of this chemical.

Keywords: Paradichlorobenzene; aromatic hydrocarbons; demyelination; leukoencephalopathy; mothballs; neurotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Review