Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a volatile organic compound (VOC) with use estimated to be around 250 million pounds per year in the United States. It is a clear, colorless liquid that has a sweet odor and evaporates quickly. TCE is a toxic chemical with human health concerns.

Where is TCE found?
TCE is as used as a solvent, a refrigerant and in dry cleaning fluid.  The majority (about 84 percent) of TCE is used in a closed system as an intermediate chemical for manufacturing refrigerant chemicals. Much of the remainder (about 15 percent) is used as a solvent for metals degreasing, leaving a small percentage to account for other uses, including use as a spotting agent in dry cleaning and in consumer products.

What are the hazards of TCE?

Exposure to TCE raises a number of health effects concerns, from both acute and chronic exposure. TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure. Single (acute) or short-term exposure can potentially affect the developing fetus. High acute concentrations of TCE vapors can irritate the respiratory system and skin and induce central nervous system effects such as light-headedness, drowsiness, and headaches. Repeated (chronic) or prolonged exposure to TCE has been associated with effects in the liver, kidneys, immune system, central nervous system.