What is carbon tetrachloride poisoning?

19 May 2017
Comments: 0
19 May 2017, Comments: 0

Carbon tetrachloride is a highly toxic man-made compound present in refrigerants, dry-cleaning products, pesticides and cleaners. Due to its high toxicity, it is no longer used in household cleaning products.

When working or using the chemical, it is vital to observe the necessary safety precautions. Remember that it can be toxic in both gas or liquid form. Poisoning can lead to toxic hepatitis and even death.

What are the indications?


If an individual was exposed to significant amounts of the chemical, the symptoms of carbon tetrachloride poisoning are usually abrupt and severe.

If an individual was exposed to significant amounts of the chemical, the symptoms of carbon tetrachloride poisoning are usually abrupt and severe. The immediate symptoms might include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensation of warmth in the stomach if the liquid form was ingested

If exposed to highly concentrated doses, it can cause:

  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Death

The delayed symptoms might arise several days after an acute exposure. They might also manifest after a long period of steady exposure. Always bear in mind that toxic hepatitis is the main complication of this form of poisoning which involves damage to the liver and kidneys. It can also cause the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent headache
  • Back pain
  • Blood-streaked stool
  • Jaundice
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Hypertension
  • Organ failure
  • Death

Risk factors

Individuals who work at commercial dry-cleaning facilities face a risk for carbon tetrachloride poisoning. Those who work in other industries that utilize or produce the chemical are also at risk. Using proper safety gear and equipment can lower the risk.

The chemical might also seep into groundwater. Swimming or bathing in contaminated water can result to poisoning. Additionally, drinking contaminated water is also a risk.

Management of carbon tetrachloride poisoning

Always bear in mind that carbon tetrachloride poisoning could not be reversed and there is no known antidote. The treatment only reduces the effects of the chemical and ease the symptoms. In severe cases, life-saving measures might be required to control breathing and regulate organ function such as artificial respiration.

If an individual is poisoned, he/she requires treatment in a healthcare facility. Medications are usually given to provide comfort such as pain medications and anti-nausea drugs.

If the chemical was ingested, surgery is needed. Stomach pumping or gastric lavage is done to eliminate the poison from the body. In severe cases, the bodily organs might sustain damage. In such cases, dialysis or transplant surgery is required.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on carbon tetrachloride poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage this type of poisoning, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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