Fact Sheet: Epichlorohydrin


EPICHLOROHYDRIN FACT SHEET

Brief Overview:
Contaminant: Epichlorohydrin
Category: Organic
MCL:
Source:
Effect:
Followup:
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Details:
Source:
Epichlorohydrin is a colorless organic liquid with a pungent, garlic-like odor. The greatest use of epichlorohydrin is used to make glycerin and as a building block in making plastics and other polymers, some of which are used in water supply systems. It is also used in the paper and drug industries and as an insect fumigant.

Production and imports of epichlorohydrin in the mid-1980s totalled 511 million lbs. The main source of concern for epichlorohydrin in drinking water is from its use as a clarifier during water treatment. When added to water, it coagulates and traps suspended solids for easier removal. However, some epichlorohydrin may not coagulate and may remain in the water as a contaminant.

What happens to Epichlorohydrin when it is released to the environment? Epichlorohydrin readily evaporates from near-surface soils and surface waters. It will not bind to sediments in water bodies. If spilled on land, it may leach into the groundwater but it is easily broken down by a number of chemical reactions. It will not accumulate in aquatic life.

Effect:
Short-term: EPA has found epichlorohydrin to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: skin irritation; detrimental effects on liver, kidneys, central nervous system.
Long-term: Epichlorohydrin has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: stomach, eye and skin irritation; chromosome aberrations; adverse changes in blood; cancer.

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