- 153.8 g/mol
- Chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAH)
Compound properties list
|Melting/boiling point|| -23 °C / 78 °C||Liquid|
|Relative density||1.58 g/cm3||Sinks in water|
|Vapour pressure||100 mm Hg||Very volatile|
|Vapour density||5.3||Denser than air|
|Solubility in water||800 mg/L||Low solubility|
|Henry's law constant||6 x 10-2 atm·m3/mol||Rapid volatilization when dissolved|
|log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)||1.8 - 2.6*||Moderate adsorption to organic matter|
At 20 0C, carbon tetrachloride is a liquid denser than water and very volatile.
Characterized by low solubility, it will volatilize rapidly once dissolved and moderately adsorbs to
organic matter. During a spill, this compound will mostly evaporate but may also enter into the soil
or migrate into a waterway. Once it encounters water (surface or subsurface), carbon tetrachloride
will dissolve or sink until it reaches an impermeable surface. The liquid carbon tetrachloride that
accumulates in a saturated zone will gradually dissolve before the major portion volatilizes. The
adsorbed carbon tetrachloride in the vadose and saturated zones will take some time to disappear,
liberating contamination in either the gaseous (primarily) or dissolved state. The resulting plumes
(gaseous or dissolved) will be relatively moderate in size.
Carbon tetrachloride should be handled with care as it is toxic.
Carbon tetrachloride is a manufactured chemical and does not occur naturally in the
environment. Carbon tetrachloride is produced by exhaustive chlorination of a variety of low
molecular weight hydrocarbons such as carbon disulfide, methane, ethane, propane and ethylene
dichloride. It is also produced by thermal chlorination of methyl chloride. The Canadian production
of carbon tetrachloride ceased in 1995.
The major use of carbon tetrachloride has historically been in the production of
chlorofluorocarbons for refrigeration fluid and propellants for aerosol cans. Because carbon
tetrachloride is a solvent, it has also been widely used as a cleaning fluid (degreasing agent in
industrial and dry cleaning facilities). Carbon tetrachloride is nonflammable so was also used in
fire extinguishers. Until recently, it was used as a solvent in some household products (spot
remover for clothing, furniture and carpeting) and as a fumigant to kill insects in grain. Because
of the toxicity of carbon tetrachloride, consumer and fumigant uses have been discontinued, and only
industrial uses remain. The adoption of an international agreement (the Montreal Protocol) to reduce
environmental concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals, which called for the complete phase-out
of carbon tetrachloride production by 2000, has limited the availability of carbon tetrachloride to
those uses for which no effective substitute has been found.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2005.
Profile for Carbon Tetrachloride. U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Georgia, USA. (Viewed March 2010).
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. 1999. Canadian Water Quality
the Protection of Aquatic Life: Halogenated Methanes (tetrachloromethane). In: Canadian
Environmental Quality Guidelines. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Manitoba,
Canada. (Viewed March 2010).
Montgomery, John H. 2007. Groundwater Chemicals, Desk Reference, Fourth Edition,
CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Florida, USA.