Vinyl Chloride: From Water Technology Magazine, Volume 32, Issue 7 - July 2009
What it is:
- Organic compound, chemical symbol: CH2:CHCl, or C2H3Cl.
- Other names: vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), chlorethene, chlorethylene, monochloroethene, monovinyl chloride (MVC).
- At room temperature, a colorless, highly flammable gas that can have a sweet odor. Often stored under pressure as a liquid.
- Slightly soluble in water.
- Man-made, not found in nature. Produced in large quantities.
- Principal use: As raw material to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polymers (plastics). PVC is used to manufacture many industrial and consumer products: water and sewer pipe, wire insulation, floor and wall coverings, toys, medical devices, food packaging, etc.
- Found in air or groundwater principally as the result of manufacturing/commercial emissions, spills.
- Known carcinogen, highly toxic. Short-term exposure at high levels can be fatal. Long-term exposure at low levels can cause cancer, other illnesses.
- Most likely to be exposed: workers in vinyl chloride or PVC production facilities. Worker protection strictly regulated.
- Most common drinking water exposure is from contaminated wells.
- Products made with PVC not considered to be health hazards.
In the news:
This year in the Chicago suburb of Crestwood, IL, it was found that water from a vinyl chloride-contaminated well was mixed with other uncontaminated public drinking water supplies. Civil lawsuits and a criminal investigation are under way.
- In public water supplies: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforceable maximum contaminant level (MCL): 2 micrograms per liter, or 2 parts per billion (ppb). EPA goal is zero. Periodic monitoring required; detection above 0.5 ppb mandates continuous monitoring; above 2.0 ppb mandates immediate removal.
- Public must be notified of any air releases.
- Granular activated carbon (GAC)
- GAC combined with reverse osmosis
- Some distillation methods.
Sources: US EPA,World Health Organization, The Dow Chemical Co., US Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, Illinois Department of Public Health, Water Quality Association.