1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane belongs to the group volatile organic compounds (VOC). It is a colourless to yellow volatile liquid with a faint, pungent smell. 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane is non-combustible.1
In the past, the substance was mainly used in production of other chemicals, as an industrial solvent, for cleaning and degreasing of metals and as ingredient in paints and pesticides.2 In Sweden, it is prohibited to market 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane to the general public in concentrations exceeding 0.1 mass percent and to use the substance in a way that results in exposure.3
Sources and transportation pathways
1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane may be emitted to the environment from landfills.4 When it is emitted to the environment most of it evaporates quickly to air. It may also end up in the groundwater. In air and in water, the substance degrades in about one year.5
Effects on environment and health
1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane is acutely toxic, not readily degradable and biomagnifies in the environment. The substance is toxic to aquatic systems.6 As a VOC, 1,1,2,2-tetrachlorethane can be involved in the formation of ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone may damage vegetation and during episodes of elevated VOC levels, it may cause irritation of the respiratory tract in humans.
Inhalation, digestion and severe skin exposure may cause poisoning resulting in drowsiness, dizziness and nausea. The heart may be severely affected from high exposure and the liver may be affected from long-term exposure. Exposure to liquid or gas streams could cause cold-burns. If 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane is heated, toxic and corrosive gases can form.7 8
International agreements and regulations
The presence of 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane in products is regulated by the EU REACH regulation (EC 1907/2006). The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane emissions is made available.
As a VOC, 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane is indirectly regulated by the UN Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as by the EU National Emissions Ceilings Directive (2001/81/EC) and the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU).