Fact Sheet: Carbon Tetrachloride


Brief Overview:
Contaminant: Carbon Tetrachloride
Category: Organic
Source: Cleaning solvents
Effect: Cancer
Followup: Treat and retest quarterly
Treatment: Granular activated charcoal

Carbon tetrachloride is a clear heavy organic liquid with a sweet aromatic odor similar to chloroform. Most of it is used to make chlorofluorocarbon propellants and refrigerants, though this has been declining steadily. Other uses have included: as dry cleaning agent and fire extinguisher, in making nylon, as a solvent for rubber cement, soaps, insecticides, etc.
Production of carbon tetrachloride in 1988 was 761 million lbs Carbon tetrachloride is released to land and water from landfills, in wastewater from industries, from agricultural activities. From 1987 to 1993, according to the Toxic Release Inventory, carbon tetrachloride releases to water and land totalled nearly 76,000 lbs. These releases were primarily from chemical manufacturing industries. The largest releases occurred in Texas.

What happens to Carbon Tetrachloride when it is released to the environment? Carbon tetrachloride evaporates quickly from surface waters and soil. It does not bind to soil and may leach into ground water. It has a low potential to accumulate in aquatic life.

Short-term: EPA has found carbon tetrachloride to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: liver, kidney and lung damage.
Long-term: Carbon tetrachloride has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: liver damage; cancer.

Treat and retest quarterly.

Granular activated charcoal in combination with Packed Tower Aeration.