November 12, 2020

EPA: Inhalation, Dermal Exposure to Carbon Tetrachloride Presents Risks to Workers

EPA’s final risk evaluation for carbon tetrachloride identifies “unreasonable” risks to workers related to most of its commercial uses, including manufacture of the chemical, processing it as a reactant or intermediate, laboratory use, recycling, and disposal. Workers in direct contact and those who work in the vicinity of carbon tetrachloride but not directly with it can both be adversely affected by the chemical. According to EPA, these unreasonable risks for workers are associated with long-term inhalation or dermal exposure to carbon tetrachloride.

For its final risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 15 potential uses of carbon tetrachloride in industrial and commercial work. The agency describes carbon tetrachloride as a solvent “used in commercial settings as a raw material for producing other chemicals like refrigerants, chlorinated compounds, and agricultural products.”

EPA’s draft risk evaluation for carbon tetrachloride was published in January 2020. At that time, the agency stated that carbon tetrachloride presents no unreasonable risks to workers, provided that appropriate personal protective equipment is used. The draft risk evaluation identified unreasonable risks only for nearby workers associated with chronic inhalation exposure to carbon tetrachloride.

Under Toxic Substances Control Act legislation, EPA has two years to finalize actions to address the unreasonable risks identified in its final risk evaluation of carbon tetrachloride. The agency’s press release states that “EPA is moving immediately to risk management for this chemical and will work as quickly as possible to propose and finalize actions to protect workers and occupational non-users.” EPA’s proposed actions could include regulation of how carbon tetrachloride is used. The agency may also limit or prohibit the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of carbon tetrachloride.