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Chlorinated Hydrocarbons

  • By: Penny L. Morrill
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHCs) are a group of organic molecules that consist of chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen atoms. While some CHCs occur naturally, many of these compounds are synthesized for industrial purposes or are formed as disinfection by-products (DBPs). As the result of accidental spills and improper disposal methods, CHCs are among the most frequently detected hazardous chemicals at abandoned waste sites, in refuse disposal areas, and in industrial and municipal wastewaters. These compounds persist in the environment, and many bioaccumulate in the food chain. Some CHCs form separate, dense nonaqueous-phase liquids (DNAPL) with very low solubilities in water. However, the solubilities of DNAPL CHCs are orders of magnitude greater than their typical drinking water limits, making DNAPL CHCs long-term sources of groundwater contamination. While the ...

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