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Tetrachloroethylene (PERC) & Exposure Concerns

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Published on Mar 25, 2015

Tetrachloroethylene, also commonly referred to as PERC, is a manufactured colorless liquid chemical that has been used widely for dry cleaning, as a chemical intermediate, metal degreaser and as a component of some consumer products (shoe polish, typewriter correction fluid). The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that tetrachloroethylene may reasonably be anticipated to be a carcinogen and the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified it as a Group 2A carcinogen.

Exposure to PERC can occur in some work environments or from air, water, groundwater and soils that have become contaminated. Occupational exposure to PERC primarily occurs in industries using the chemical, such as dry cleaning, and in industries that manufacture the chemical. People can even be exposed thru a process known as vapor intrusion. This can occur when homes and buildings are constructed over contaminated soils or groundwater and the chemical migrates into the structure through cracks and openings in the building’s foundation.

People are mainly exposed to PERC by breathing contaminated air or drinking contaminated water and once in the body, it can remain stored in fat tissue.

The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that tetrachloroethylene has been found in at least 771 of the 1,430 National Priorities List (NPL) sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the EPA:
Breathing PERC for short periods of time can adversely affect the human nervous system. Effects range from dizziness, fatigue, headaches and sweating to incoordination and unconsciousness. Contact with PERC liquid or vapor irritates the skin, the eyes, the nose, and the throat.

Breathing PERC over longer periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage in humans. Workers exposed repeatedly to large amounts of PERC in air can also experience memory loss and confusion. Laboratory studies show that PERC causes kidney and liver damage and cancer in animals exposed repeatedly by inhalation and by mouth.

These are just a few things to know about tetrachloroethylene and potential exposure concerns for workers and the public. To learn more about this or other indoor air quality, health and safety, occupational or other environmental issues, please visit the websites shown on the screen.

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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