Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Term Trichloroethylene Pronunciation: [trahy -klohr-oh-eth-uh-leen] (Dictionary.com)Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number (CASRN): 79-01-6
Also known as: Trichloroethene, TCE
 Purpose/ Definition

TCE is a widely-used, manufactured, chlorinated volatile organic compound. It is a colorless or blue liquid with a chloroform-like odor (Although exposure can occur at levels too low to detect through smell). 

TCE is a solvent in household and industrial products, such as: metal cleaners (degreasers), glues, adhesives, paint removers, spot removers, rug cleaning fluids, paints, and typewriter correction fluid. 

Sources: EPA Releases Final Health Assessment for TCE, (9/28/2011)         
EPA: Basic Information about Trichloroethylene in Drinking Water (10/10/11)
New York State Department of Health: Trichloroethene (TCE) in Indoor and Outdoor Air Fact Sheet: February 2005
Health Effects Cancer:  “‘Carcinogenic to humans’ by all routes of exposure.”  “EPA has concluded, by a weight of evidence evaluation, that TCE is carcinogenic by a mutagenic mode of action for induction of kidney tumors. As a result, increased early-life susceptibility is assumed for kidney cancer…”

  • “Tumor Type: Renal cell carcinoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and  liver tumors”
  • “Test Species: Human (epidemiological studies)”
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS): Tricholorethylene Quickview (CASRN 79-01-6) 9/28/11

Noncarcinogenic Effects:

  • “Decreased thymus weight in female mice” (oral and inhalation exposures from drinking water, separate studies)
  • “Increased fetal cardiac malformations in rats” (oral and inhalation exposures from drinking water, separate studies)
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS): Tricholorethylene Quickview (CASRN 79-01-6) 9/28/11

Neurological Effects:

High levels in the air (long-term exposure) affect “…the central nervous system (reduced scores on tests evaluating motor coordination, nausea, headaches, dizziness) and irritation of the mucous membranes.

Very high levels in the air (short-term exposure) “…irritate the eyes and respiratory tract, and can cause effects on the central nervous system, including dizziness, headache, sleepiness, nausea, confusion, blurred vision and fatigue.”

Source: New York State Department of Health: Trichloroethene (TCE) in Indoor and Outdoor Air Fact Sheet: February 2005  
More on Health Effects: 
Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry: Reported health effects linked with trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl chloride (VC) exposure
EPA: Toxicological Review of Trichloroethylene Appendix D
Exposure “TCE is one of the most common man-made chemicals found in the environment. Frequently found at Superfund sites across the country, TCE’s movement from contaminated ground water and soil, into the indoor air of overlying buildings, is of serious concern.” Source: EPA Releases Final Health Assessment for TCE, (9/28/2011)“People can be exposed to TCE in air, water and food. Exposure can also occur when TCE, or material containing TCE, gets on the skin.TCE gets into the air by evaporation when it is used. TCE can also enter air and groundwater if it is improperly disposed or leaks into the ground. People can be exposed to TCE if they drink groundwater contaminated with TCE, and if the TCE evaporates from the contaminated drinking water into indoor air during cooking and washing. They may also be exposed if TCE evaporates from the groundwater, enters soil vapor (air spaces between soil particles), and migrates through building foundations into the building’s indoor air. This process is called ‘soil vapor intrusion.’” Source: New York State Department of Health: Trichloroethene (TCE) in Indoor and Outdoor Air Fact Sheet: February 2005
Drinking Water Limits  TCE’s Maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) (non-enforceable health goal): zeroTCE’s Maximum contaminant level (MCL) (enforceable regulation): 0.005 mg/L or 5 ppb.  Source: EPA: Basic Information about Trichloroethylene in Drinking Water (10/10/11)*MCL level was set before TCE was considered a known human carcinogen. EPA will revise “…[MCL] for TCE as part of the carcinogenic volatile organic compounds group in drinking water…”   Source: EPA Releases Final Health Assessment for TCE, (9/28/2011)
LMG Article of Interest TSCA: Targeted for Overhaul, Fall 2010
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