Carbon tetrachloride is a clear, colorless, and volatile liquid with a sweet smell that can be detected at low levels and is used as a raw material or processing agent for the manufacture of other chemicals and products.1
CTC is a solvent used in commercial settings as a raw material for producing other chemicals used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and other applications, in accordance with the Clean Air Act and Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.2
Uses & Benefits
Carbon tetrachloride is the feedstock for low-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) alternatives used in next-generation refrigerants for automotive air conditioning systems manufactured in the U.S. These can enable compliance with the Kigali Amendment3 and the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act4, and allows U.S. companies to maintain competitiveness in global markets.
CTC is a feedstock in foam blowing agents for insulation products to help increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon tetrachloride may be found in both ambient outdoor and indoor air in and near the facilities where it is manufactured. Carbon tetrachloride is not currently used as a direct reactant or additive in the formulation of consumer products5.
In December 2022, the EPA released a final revised risk determination for carbon tetrachloride, which amends the November 2020 risk evaluation for carbon tetrachloride under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The EPA has determined that exposure to CTC can present an unreasonable risk to workers unless appropriate control measures are in place6.
Facilities that manufacture CTC and use it as an intermediate are covered by the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturing Industry (SOCMI), which require closed systems where exposure is tightly controlled. And such facilities must meet workplace limits established by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA set a limit of 10 parts per million (ppm) for carbon tetrachloride in workplace air for an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek 7.
Carbon tetrachloride is a clear, colorless, and volatile liquid with a sweet smell that can be detected at low levels and is used as a raw material or processing agent for the manufacture of other chemicals and products.
What happens to carbon tetrachloride when it enters the environment?
When carbon tetrachloride enters the environment, it moves very quickly into the air upon release. It evaporates quickly from surface water, and only a small amount sticks to soil particles—the rest evaporates or moves into the groundwater. Carbon tetrachloride is stable in the air (lifetime 30-100 years) and can be broken down or transformed in soil and water within several days. It does not build up in animals, and it is unknown whether it builds up in plants.
How might I be exposed to carbon tetrachloride?
You can become exposed to carbon tetrachloride through breathing contaminated air near manufacturing plants or waste sites; breathing workplace air when it is used; drinking contaminated water near manufacturing plants and waste sites; breathing contaminated air and skin contact with water while showering or cooking with contaminated water; swimming or bathing in contaminated water; and contact with or ingesting contaminated soil at waste sites.