May 20, 2009

Carbon tetrachloride present worldwide

Carbon tetrachloride is present worldwide in elevated levels thanks in part to society's former use of the probable human carcinogen, U.S. scientists say.

Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor Allen Robinson said thanks to the former popularity of carbon tetrachloride, the chemical now serves as a threat to future generations, USA Today reported Wednesday.

This is a great example of "¦ where we thought we had some great technology, but we learned there were unintended environmental consequences, said the Pittsburgh professor, who studied toxic air in his city. Unfortunately "¦ we've placed those consequences onto future generations.

Kenneth Mitchell, air toxics program chief for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's southeast regional office, reiterated the threat potential of the chemical, which his agency says can harm an individual's liver, kidneys and brain.

The EPA official told USA Today, which found carbon tetrachloride in the air outside 70 of 95 schools in 30 states, the chemical can last nearly 50 years once released into the air. The chemical was once used to dry clean clothing, put out fires and kill bugs.