Terrestrial natural sources of trichloromethane (chloroform,chcl3) - an overview

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The widespread use of volatile chlorinated compounds like chloroform, trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene in industrialized societies causes a large annual release of these compounds into the environment. Due to their role as a source for halogen radicals involved in various catalytic atmospheric reaction cycles, including the regulation of the stratospheric and tropospheric ozone layers, these compounds also constitute a risk for drinking water resources as they can be transported to the groundwater from contaminated field sites or even from atmospheric deposition. Therefore, identification and investigation of sources and sinks of volatile chlorinated compounds are of particular interest. Chloroform, a major contributor to natural gaseous chlorine, was found to be emitted by several anthropogenic and natural sources including the oceans and terrestrial areas. The origin of chloroform in the terrestrial environment can be anthropogenic point sources, atmospheric deposition, release by vegetation and production directly in the soil. The calculated annual biogenic global chloroform emission is 700 Gg, and marine and terrestrial environments are nearly equal contributors. The estimated emissions from anthropogenic sources account for less than 10% of the estimated total emissions from all sources. Among terrestrial sources, forests have recently been identified as contributing to the release of chloroform into the environment. With the data available, annual emissions of chloroform to the atmosphere from forest sites were calculated and compared to other natural sources. At present knowledge, forests are only a minor source in the total biogenic flux of chloroform, contributing less than 1% to the annual global atmospheric input. However, it should be noted that data are available for Northern temperate forests only. The large tropical forest areas may provide a yet unknown input of chloroform.




Laturnus, Frank, Kim F. Haselmann, Thomas Borch, and Christian Grøn. Biogeochemistry 60, no. 2 (2002): 121–139. doi:10.1023/a:1019887505651.
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