Household Chemicals: Para-dichlorobenzene (p-DCB)

Avoid bringing potentially hazardous chemicals into your bathroom with this easy-to-understand guide.

Learn which common household cleaners are a cause for concern:

Found in: Air fresheners, diaper-pail and toilet-bowl cleaners

What it is: Para-dichlorobenzene (p-DCB) is an odor-controlling chemical that’s virtually insoluble in water—which gives it the lasting power to keep even toilet bowls smelling fresh.

Health concerns: In animal studies, p-DCB was associated with liver and kidney cancers. Although there is no adequate data on the effects of p-DCB in humans, the chemical is thought to be a possible carcinogen. In fact, the National Toxicology Program has determined that p-DCB is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

Stay safe: Use green cleaning products whenever possible. Clorox’s Green Works line is free of petroleum-based chemicals, and Seventh Generation lists every ingredient on its website. Instead of room deodorizers, try a pure essential-oil spray, like rose, or set out fresh flowers for a naturally pleasant scent. You also can simmer water on the stove and add cinnamon or your favorite herb to permeate your house and deodorize without chemicals.