U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Dense Nonaqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs)

Environmental Occurrence

Halogenated Alkanes


Bromoform (also known as tribromomethane) has been used as a fluid for mineral ore separation in geological surveying, as a laboratory reagent, and in the electronics industry for quality assurance programs. In the past, bromoform has been used as an intermediate in chemical synthesis, as a sedative, and as a cough suppression agent. It also has been used as a solvent for waxes, greases, and oils; as an ingredient in fire-resistant chemicals; and in fluid gauges (ATSDR 2005).

EPA's Toxics Release Inventory reports that approximately 7,000 pounds of bromoform were released to the air in point source emissions in 2008.

An on-line search of EPA's CERCLIS database for bromoform returned 27 hazardous waste sites at which the compound has been reported.

In a U.S. Geological Survey nationwide assessment of public and private water wells, Zogorski et al. (2006) found that bromoform is the eleventh most frequently detected VOC in the aquifers tested, occurring in over one percent of the samples. Bromoform is found in a little over four percent of public supply wells but is rarely found in private wells (Zogorski et al. 2006). An extensive discussion of bromoform in drinking water wells is available in Chapter 6: Potential for Human Exposure, of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's toxicological profile for bromoform and chlorodibromomethane (ATSDR 2005).

Bromoform, dibromochloromethane, dichlorobromomethane, and chloroform belong to a group of chemicals referred to as trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs are formed when raw source water is processed with chlorine-containing disinfectants that react with natural organic or carbon-containing matter in the water to form disinfection byproducts. The principal source of human exposure to THMs is chlorinated water in public water supplies, usually in the low mg/L range. Normal household use of water containing these chemicals can result in exposure by the ingestion, inhalation, and dermal routes (ATSDR 2005).


The Quality of Our Nation's Waters: Volatile Organic Compounds in the Nation's Ground Water and Drinking-Water Supply WellsAdobe PDF Logo
Zogorski, J., J.M. Carter, T. Ivahnenko, W.W. Lapham, M.J. Moran, B.L. Rowe, P.J. Squillace, and P.L. Toccalino.
U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1292, 112 pp, 2006

Toxicological Profile for Bromoform and Chlorodibromomethane
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), 273 pp, 2005

For Further Information

Occurrence of Trihalomethanes in the Nation's Ground Water and Drinking-Water Supply Wells, 1985-2002
Schaap, B.D., and J.S. Zogorski.
U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5068, 65 pp, 2006