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Trichloroethylene (TCE) & Exposure Risks

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Published on Feb 4, 2015

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a nonflammable, colorless liquid with a somewhat sweet odor. It is a type of volatile organic compound (VOC) that is used mainly as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts and is also used in some adhesives, paint removers and spot removers.

TCE is not thought to occur naturally in the environment. It can be released into the air, water and soil at places where it is produced, used or disposed of. Although TCE breaks down rather quickly in air, it breaks down slowly in soil or water and has been found in underground water sources and many surface waters.

People can be exposed to TCE through inhalation, ingestion and dermal exposure. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), “Exposure to moderate amounts of trichloroethylene may cause headaches, dizziness, and sleepiness; large amounts may cause coma and even death. Eating or breathing high levels of trichloroethylene may damage some of the nerves in the face. Exposure to high levels can also result in changes in the rhythm of the heartbeat, liver damage, and evidence of kidney damage. Skin contact with concentrated solutions of trichloroethylene can cause skin rashes.” The ATSDR also reports, “There is strong evidence that trichloroethylene can cause kidney cancer in people and some evidence for trichloroethylene-induced liver cancer and malignant lymphoma.”

Sources of TCE exposure for the general population include:
• Contaminated air and water which are typically the most important sources of exposure.
• Indoor air which may contain TCE that has migrated from contaminated soil and groundwater to the indoors through such things as cracks in a foundation in a process known as vapor intrusion.
• TCE readily enters the air from water, including contaminated bath and shower water.
• Living in proximity to sites where TCE is produced or waste sites containing the chemical.
• Using trichloroethylene-containing products such as stains and varnishes, adhesives, paint removers and cleaners.

Sources of TCE exposure for workers include:
• Workers involved in the manufacture of TCE.
• Workers using degreasers that contain TCE.
• Workers in the dry cleaning industry.

These are just a few things to know about TCE and exposure risks. To learn more about this or other health and safety, indoor air quality, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown in the video and below.

Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. http://www.iecinc.net
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Maine Indoor Air Quality Council http://www.maineindoorair.org
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters http://HudsonDouglasPublicAdjusters.com

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