Final Risk Evaluation for Carbon Tetrachloride Issued by EPA

In November 2020, a final risk evaluation for carbon tetrachloride was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This evaluation is part of the Agency’s ongoing efforts to help protect the environment and human health. In this blog post, we discuss the evaluation and several of the key findings associated with it.

About Carbon Tetrachloride

Carbon tetrachloride is a clear, liquid, volatile chlorinated hydrocarbon possessing notable solvent properties. It has been used in a wide range of industrial applications, including dry cleaning, fumigation, degreasing, as well as use in varnishes, fire extinguishers, refrigerants, and more.

While the principal exposure route for carbon tetrachloride is via inhalation, exposure via the skin (dermal exposure) and via ingestion are also possible. Effects of exposure to the chemical can be serious. Of particular note is its hepatotoxicity. Carbon tetrachloride exposure has been shown to result in cases of liver necrosis, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. It has also been found to yield other harmful effects, including on the renal and nervous systems.

Key Findings

The EPA's final risk evaluation for carbon tetrachloride was based on an assessment of the following 15 industrial conditions of use:

  • Domestic manufacture
  • Import (including loading, unloading, and repackaging)
  • Processing as a reactant in the production of certain chemical substances
  • Processing as a reactant in reactive ion etching
  • Processing for incorporation into formulation, mixtures, or reaction products
  • Repackaging for use in laboratory chemicals
  • Recycling
  • Distribution in commerce
  • Industrial/commercial use as an additive
  • Industrial/commercial use as an industrial processing aid
  • Industrial/commercial use as a laboratory chemical
  • Industrial/commercial use in the manufacture of other basic chemicals
  • Industrial/commercial use in metal recovery
  • Industrial/commercial use in specialty uses
  • Disposal

This evaluation yielded several key findings:

  • For any condition of use, no unreasonable risks to the environment were found
  • For most conditions of use (13 of the 15), unreasonable risks to human health were found
    • Exceptions include when distributed in commerce and when processed as a reactant in reactive ion etching
    • Unreasonable risks were found for most commercial uses of carbon tetrachloride (both for workers and occupational non-users)

Risk Evaluation Under Lautenberg Act

Of the first group of ten chemical substances requiring risk evaluation under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act), carbon tetrachloride is the fourth for which a final evaluation has been issued. The EPA has set a goal for the completion of the six other risk evaluations by the end of this year.

For Access to Additional Vital Information

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