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

Carbon Tetrachloride

Carbon tetrachloride (CT) is a clear, organic, manufactured liquid that does not occur naturally in the environment. Title VI of the Clean Air Act Amendments set forth regulation that called for a reduction to 15% of 1989 production levels by 1995 and a complete phase out of production for nonfeedstock uses by 2000. Until 1986, CT was used as a pesticide as well as in fire extinguishers and in households as a spot remover from clothes, furniture, and carpeting. It also was produced in large quantities to make refrigeration fluids and propellants for aerosol cans. CT has been used as a dry cleaning agent, in making nylon, and as a solvent for rubber cement and soaps. Most of these practices have been phased out, and the use of CT has declined a great deal (HSDB and ATSDR 2005)

CT has been identified in at least 430 of the 1,662 hazardous waste sites proposed for inclusion on the National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites (ATSDR 2005).

EPA's Toxics Release Inventory, which does not cover all industrial sources, gives the total amount of CT releases reported in 1992 as about 1,460,206 pounds, which is significantly higher than the reported 298,651 pounds of CT released to the environment in 2007. Of this, over 157,000 pounds were emitted to air and about 39,000 pounds were injected to deep wells.

Zogorski et al. (2006) in a nationwide survey of public and private water wells found that CT was detected in 0.73 percent of the public supply wells and 0.75 percent of the domestic wells sampled- albeit at very low levels (less than the MCL). CT was detected in 1.1 percent of the aquifer samples.


Carbon Tetrachloride, CASRN: 56-23-5
PubChem, National Center for Biotechnology Information.

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

Adobe PDF LogoToxicological Profile for Carbon Tetrachloride
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), 361 pp, 2005