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Frequent Asked Questions

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions Answer

Are there active ingredients you should avoid using in your RV holding tank deodorizers?

From The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences - RV Holding-tank Treatments & Deodorizers in Septic Systems PUBLICATION AZ1233 6/2001, Revised 3/2010


The restoration of failed RV-park septic systems ultimately costs you money. The costs to renovate a system will be added to your space fee, and the restoration of contaminated groundwater can be extremely time consuming and costly. Further information is available on household septic systems at the University of Arizona Extension publications web page (http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs).

Table 1. Active ingredients you should avoid using in your RV holding tank deodorizers.

Active Ingredient Threats to Human and Environmental Health
Bronopol (chemical name: bromo-nitropropane-diol) bacterial pesticide
Dowicil (chemical name: 1-(3-chlorallyl)-3,4,7-triaza-1-azoniaadamantane chloride) bacterial pesticide (EPA states "Do not discharge effluent containing this product to sewer systems without previously notifying the local sewage treatment plant authority.")
Formaldehyde (also known as Formalin; degradate of bronopol) kills or retards bacterial growth, recognized by EPA as probable carcinogen1; moderately toxic to humans2
Glutaraldehyde (also known as embalming fluid) Retards bacterial growth and covers sewage odor, eye/inhalation irritant
Paraformaldehyde (polymerized formaldehyde) very toxic to humans3 (see formaldehyde)
Para-dichlorobenzene (common ingredient in mothballs, urinal cakes, and toilet bowl fresheners) known carcinogen1 and drinking water contaminant; moderately toxic to humans2


  1. a carcinogen causes cancer
  2. lethal dose for 150 lb person is between 1 ounce to 1 pint
  3. lethal dose for 150 lb person is between 1 teaspoon to 1 ounce

This fact sheet was adapted from Alert for RV, Boat and Mobile Home Owners and Park Operators About Safe Wastewater Disposal, EPA Publication 909-F-99-002, July 1999.

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