Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins: Production, Use and International Regulations

  • Heidelore FiedlerEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 10)


Chlorinated paraffins (CPs) are a group of synthetic organic chemicals consisting of n-alkanes with varying degrees of chlorination, usually between 40 and 70% by weight. There are no known natural sources of CPs. CPs are produced by chlorination of n-alkane feedstocks. CPs typically are viscous oils with low vapor pressures; they are practically insoluble in water but are soluble in chlorinated solvents or mineral oils. They are toxic to wildlife, long-lasting in the environment and build up in the tissues of organisms. Long-chain CPs are believed to be much less toxic to aquatic life than the related short- or medium-chain CPs.

CPs consist of extremely complex mixtures allowing many possible positions for the chlorine atoms. Depending on the degree of chlorination, they are grouped into low (<50%) and high (>50%) chlorine containing. Depending on the chain length, the products are often subdivided into short-chain (C10–C13), medium-chain (C14–C17) and long-chain (C18–C30) CPs.

CPs, including short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs), are used worldwide in a wide range of applications such as plasticisers in plastics, extreme pressure additives in metalworking fluids, flame retardants and additives in paints. Their wide industrial applications probably provide the major source of environmental contamination. CPs may be released into the environment from improperly disposed metalworking fluids containing CPs or from polymers containing CPs. Loss of CPs by leaching from paints and coatings may also contribute to environmental contamination. The potential for loss during production and transport is expected to be less than that during product use and disposal. Despite many efforts, a global picture as to the definition of CPs, present production, uses and occurrences is still not yet obtained.

Since about 20 years, SCCPs have become subject to regulation at national and international level due to their physical–chemical properties and adverse effects. Action has been initiated for severely restricting or banning production and use of certain CPs. The latest activities include the listing of SCCPs under the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Protocol of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Longe-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Convention and ongoing discussions on including SCCPs to the Stockholm Convention on POPs.


Chlorinated paraffins Definitions Regulation Risk assessment Releases 



Arctic contamination potential


Body weight


Chemical Abstract Service


Conference of the parties


Chlorinated paraffin(s)


European Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment


Critical toxicity value


European (Economic) Commission


Estimated exposure value


European Inventory of Existing Chemical Substances


European Pollutant Emission Register


European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register


Global monitoring plan


Helsinki Commission


Henry’s law constant


International Agency for Research on Cancer


International Programme on Chemical Safety


International Union for Applied Chemistry


Long-chain chlorinated paraffins


Lowest observed adverse effect level


Lowest observed effect concentration


Long-range transboundary air pollution


Mediterranean Action Plan


Medium-chain chlorinated paraffins


No adverse effect level


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Oslo-Paris Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic


Paris Commission


Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic


Predicted environmental concentration


Predicted no-effect concentration


Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee


Persistent organic pollutants




(European) Risk Assessment Report


Risk quotient


Short-chain chlorinated paraffins


Sewage treatment plant


Tolerable daily intake


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe


United Nations Environment Programme


Water Framework Directive


World Health Organisation


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNEP ChemicalsChâtelaine (GE)Switzerland

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