About Carbon Tetrachloride
From The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Carbon tetrachloride is a clear liquid that evaporates very easily. Most carbon tetrachloride that escapes to the environment is therefore found as a gas. Carbon tetrachloride does not easily burn. Carbon tetrachloride has a sweet odor, and most people can begin to smell it in air when the concentration reaches 10 parts carbon tetrachloride per million parts of air (ppm). It is not known whether people can taste it or, if they can, at what level. Carbon tetrachloride is a manufactured chemical and does not occur naturally in the environment.
Carbon tetrachloride has been produced in large quantities to make refrigeration fluid and propellants for aerosol cans. Since many refrigerants and aerosol propellants have been found to affect the earth’s ozone layer, the production of these chemicals is being phased out. Consequently, the manufacture and use of carbon tetrachloride has declined a great deal.
In the past, carbon tetrachloride was widely used as a cleaning fluid (in industry and dry cleaning establishments as a degreasing agent, and in households as a spot remover for clothing, furniture, and carpeting). Carbon tetrachloride was also used in fire extinguishers and as a fumigant to kill insects in grain. Most of these uses were discontinued in the mid-1960s. Until recently, carbon tetrachloride was used as a pesticide, but this was stopped in 1986.