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About Carbon Tetrachloride

Carbon tetrachloride is a chemical compound that has been used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and consumer applications for decades. From its use as a refrigerant to its role in the manufacturing of nylons, this versatile substance has proven its worth in a range of different fields.

However, with its many uses come many potential dangers. Exposure to carbon tetrachloride can have serious short-term and long-term health effects, and it’s important for anyone who works with or around this chemical to understand the risks involved.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at carbon tetrachloride, examining both its uses and its dangers. We’ll explore the ways in which it is commonly employed in different industries, as well as the risks that come along with handling this powerful substance.

What is Carbon Tetrachloride, Chemical Compound?

Carbon tetrachloride is an organic compound with chemical formula CCI4. It is a colourless liquid with a sweet, ether-like odor. The chemical compound is soluble in alcohol, chloroform, ether, benzene, naphtha, formic acid, and carbon disulfide.

What Types of Uses Does Carbon Tet Have?

Carbon tetrachloride, also known as tetrachloromethane, has been widely used in various industrial applications due to its unique properties as a volatile organic compound (VOC).

One of its major uses is as a precursor in the production chlorinated solvents like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are used as refrigerants, propellants, and foam blowing agents.

CFCs and HCFCs are notorious for their ozone-depleting properties, which led to the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, phasing out the use of CFCs and HCFCs globally.

Carbon tetrachloride serves as a cleaning agent in the electronics industry, where it is used to remove flux residues from circuit boards.

Additionally, it has been used as a dry cleaning solvent for fabrics, as well as a fire extinguisher in the past due to its non-flammable properties. In the manufacturing of nylons, carbon tetrachloride is used as a reaction solvent to produce caprolactam, the precursor for nylon 6.

What Happens when Carbon Tetrachloride is Exposed to Steam?

When carbon tetrachloride is heated, it can turn into a gas and mix with water vapor in the air. This creates toxic gases that contain phosgene and hydrochloric acid.

Phosgene was once used in chemical warfare and is now used to make different chemicals. Hydrochloric acid is a strong acid that can harm the skin, eyes, and lungs if inhaled.

The reaction of carbon tetrachloride with steam can happen without anyone meaning for it to. This makes it particularly dangerous in industrial settings. For instance, carbon tetrachloride might be used as a cleaner in making chlorinated solvents that go into things like plastic and rubber. If the machines used in this process aren’t cleaned and dried properly, any leftover carbon tetrachloride can mix with steam and create harmful fumes.

How Does Carbon Tetrachloride Get into Your Drinking Water?

Discharge from chemical plants can get into nearby water systems. Heavy rainfall will cause runoff of the chemical compound into water sources.

Is Carbon Tetrachloride Dangerous?

Carbon tetrachloride is a volatile organic compound that has been widely used in various industries such as cleaning, refrigeration, and fire extinguishing. However, the extensive use of carbon tetrachloride has raised environmental and safety concerns due to its chemical hazards.

Carbon tetrachloride appears as colorless, heavy liquid that readily evaporates into toxic fumes. Ingesting or inhaling carbon tetrachloride can cause a range of health problems such as inducing cell toxicity and higher doses inducing hepatic tumours.

Carbon tetrachloride toxicity is attributed to its metabolism in the liver, where it is converted into toxic metabolites that damage liver cells. High doses of carbon tetrachloride can induce cell death and lead to liver failure.

Moreover, carbon tetrachloride is not only toxic but also a potent substance that causes ozone depletion. It is known to be a significant contributor to the depletion of the ozone layer, which protects us from harmful UV radiation.

Carbon tetrachloride was widely used in the past as a refrigerant, solvent, and fire extinguishing agent. However, its use has been phased out in many countries due to its environmental impact.

Carbon tetrachloride is also known to react with water and form inorganic compounds such as carbon dioxide and hydrochloric acid. These compounds are not only harmful to human health but also to the environment.

The hydrochloric acid (carbon + chloride) formed by the reaction of carbon tetrachloride with water can lead to acid rain, which has detrimental effects on plant and animal life. The formation of carbon dioxide contributes to global warming, which is a significant environmental concern.

Carbon tetrachloride released into the environment can occur through various sources, including industrial processes, improper disposal, and accidental spills.

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon tetrachloride have been declining since the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty aimed at phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances.

However, carbon tetrachloride still persists in the environment and poses a significant risk to human health and the environment.

What are the Health Risks Associated with Exposure to Carbon Tetrachloride?

Carbon tetrachloride is a chemical compound that can be dangerous to human health if you’re exposed to it. Short-term exposure, which can happen if you breathe it in, ingest it, or touch it on your skin, can cause symptoms like dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and trouble breathing. It can also harm your liver and kidneys, which could be very serious.

If you’re exposed to carbon tetrachloride over a longer period of time, it can be even more harmful. This kind of exposure has been linked to serious health problems like liver and kidney damage, as well as an increased risk of developing cancer in those organs.

There is a correlation between carbon tetrachloride exposure and cancer risk. In addition to the increased risk of cancer, liver problems are among the health risks associated with the organic compound.

To keep yourself safe from the dangers of carbon tetrachloride, it’s crucial to handle it with care. If you work with this chemical in an industrial setting, make sure to wear protective gear like gloves and masks, and follow all safe handling procedures.

And if you accidentally come into contact with carbon tetrachloride, don’t wait to see if any symptoms appear. Instead, seek medical attention right away to prevent any further harm to your health.

How Common is Carbon Tetrachloride in Water?

The chemical is uncommon in most water systems. However, contamination is possible if chemical factories do not have proper waste management. In the case of chemical runoff, you must make the necessary action to remove the contaminant to below the EPA’s drinking water regulations.

What is the EPA’s Contamination Level Standards for Carbon Tetrachloride in Drinking Water?

The EPA’s MCLG for carbon tetrachloride is set at zero while the MCL for the contaminant is at 0.005 mg/L or 5 ppb. Quick action is required if your drinking water contains carbon tetrachloride above the set contamination level standards by the EPA.

What is the Best Reduction Filter for Removing Carbon Tetrachloride from Drinking Water?

You can remove carbon tetrachloride from drinking water using granular activated carbon in water filter systems. A reliable water treatment system like AquaOx is equipped with premium activated carbon to remove the contaminant to below 0.005 mg/L or 5 ppb.

Call us today and let us help you safeguard your family’s health by setting up your first line of defense against water contaminants!

From The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

CAS#: 56-23-5

PDF Version, 70 KB

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.

Carbon Tetrachloride molecule
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