September 15, 2022

EPA Releases Another Risk Determination for Carbon Tetrachloride

In a new draft risk determination released last month, EPA finds that the solvent carbon tetrachloride presents unreasonable risk of injury to the health of workers and occupational non-users under most of its conditions of use. These conditions include manufacture of the chemical, processing it as a reactant or intermediate, laboratory use, recycling, and disposal.

The new draft risk determination is the third such document on carbon tetrachloride that EPA has produced since January 2020, when the agency announced that the substance does not present unreasonable risks to workers provided that they wear appropriate personal protective equipment. That finding was revised in a November 2020 release that evaluated 15 potential uses of carbon tetrachloride and determined that 13 of them present unreasonable risks.

Unlike the agency’s November 2020 finding, the new determination is based on carbon tetrachloride “as a whole chemical substance” and does not “mak[e] unreasonable risk determinations separately on each individual condition of use.” The new determination also clarifies that it is not based on the assumption that workers always wear PPE when using the chemical.

Carbon tetrachloride is used in the production of refrigerants, chlorinated compounds, and agricultural products. Its use in consumer products was banned in 1970 by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. According to EPA, the primary health risks of using carbon tetrachloride are cancer and chronic liver toxicity from long-term inhalation and dermal exposures, and liver toxicity from short-term dermal exposures.

The new draft risk determination was published in the Federal Register on Aug. 29. The deadline for the public to submit comments is Sept. 28. The agency will then release a final risk determination and propose regulations to address the unreasonable risks associated with its use.