January 30, 2020

EPA: Carbon Tetrachloride May Present Exposure Risks for Some Workers

A new draft risk evaluation published by EPA last week identifies no “unreasonable” risks to workers associated with the solvent carbon tetrachloride, provided that appropriate personal protective equipment is used. The agency did find that individuals who work in the vicinity of the chemical but not directly with it could be adversely affected by carbon tetrachloride under certain conditions of use. According to EPA, these unreasonable risks for nearby workers are associated with chronic inhalation exposure to carbon tetrachloride.

EPA evaluated 15 potential uses of carbon tetrachloride in industrial and commercial work, including agricultural products manufacturing, manufacturing of chlorinated compounds, repackaging for use in laboratory chemicals, and industrial and commercial use in metal recovery. The agency describes carbon tetrachloride as “a solvent used primarily as a feedstock in the production of hydrochlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, and hydrofluoroolefins.”

EPA is accepting comments on its draft risk evaluation until March 27, 2020. The Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals—a federal advisory committee charged with providing scientific advice, information, and recommendations to EPA on chemicals regulated under Toxic Substances Control Act legislation—will also review the draft risk evaluation during a meeting that will be held Feb. 25–26, 2020, in Arlington, Va. EPA urges individuals to submit comments on the draft risk evaluation by Feb. 19 to allow the committee time to review them prior to the meeting. Comments submitted after Feb. 19 and before the March 27 deadline will still be considered. More information about the public comment period is available in the docket on Regulations.gov.

EPA’s new draft risk evaluation of carbon tetrachloride is the seventh that EPA has published under the amended TSCA legislation. As amended by the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, TSCA requires EPA to complete risk evaluations for 10 chemicals, including carbon tetrachloride, within three to three-and-a-half years. EPA has yet to issue draft risk evaluations for the remaining three chemicals: asbestos, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene, which is also known as perchloroethylene.

More information on EPA activities related to chemical risk evaluations is available on the agency’s website.