EPA Designation Regulated
EPA Classification Organic Chemicals
EPA Levels 1,2 zero MCLG (mg/L)
0.005 MCLG (mg/L)
Alternative Names methylene chloride
Sources Discharge from drug and chemical factories
Dichloromethane is a widely-used paint remover, solvent and metal degreasing agent; it is discharged into the environment from the manufacture of chemicals, textiles, electronics, metals and plastics, pharmaceuticals and pesticides.


Dichloromethane, also known as DCM and methylene chloride, is a volatile organic and colorless liquid chemical with a sweet, pleasant odor like chloroform.


The greatest use of DCM is as a paint remover. Other uses include: solvent and cleaning agent in chemical manufacture, textiles, electronics, metals and plastics, pesticides industries; blowing and cleaning agent in the urethane foam industry; fumigant for strawberries and grains, and as degreener for citrus fruits; in pharmaceuticals and as an anesthetic; in extraction of caffeine, cocoa, fats, spices and beer hops; as a heat transfer agent in refrigeration products.

Health Effects

Some people who drink water containing dichloromethane well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could experience problems with their liver and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

EPA Data Source: Dichloromethane

EPA Definitions:

1Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) - The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety and are non-enforceable public health goals.

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) - The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to MCLGs as feasible using the best available treatment technology and taking cost into consideration. MCLs are enforceable standards.

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level Goal (MRDLG) - The level of a drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contaminants.

(TT) Treatment Technique - A required process intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in drinking water.

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (MRDL) - The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is convincing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.

2 Units are in milligrams per liter (mg/L) unless otherwise noted. Milligrams per liter are equivalent to parts per million.