An official website of the United States government.

We've made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Draft Risk Evaluation for Perchloroethylene

In the perchloroethylene risk evaluation, EPA reviewed 68 conditions of use. Below are the draft risk evaluation and supporting documents for perchloroethylene.

The draft risk evaluation is available for comment until July 6, 2020 in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0502. EPA also will hold a virtual peer review meeting of EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on the draft risk evaluation for this chemical on May 26-29, 2020.

To prepare a draft risk evaluation, EPA reviews extensive scientific literature, conducts modeling and other risk assessment activities, and collects exposure, fate, and transport information from many sources. EPA looks at how the chemical is used today, what we know about the chemical’s fate, transport, and toxicity, and whether the chemical’s relevant conditions of use could pose an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment. Learn more about EPA’s risk evaluation process.

On this page:


Draft Risk Evaluation Findings

In the April 2020 draft risk evaluation, EPA reviewed several commercial and consumer uses of perchloroethylene and made the following preliminary findings on whether using this chemical can cause unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. The risks found in the draft risk evaluation, including those associated with this chemical’s use in dry cleaning, are preliminary and do not require any action at this time. The risks found by the agency may change based on comments received from the public and peer reviewers.

EPA’s draft risk evaluation preliminarily found unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, bystanders, and the environment from certain uses. The primary health risk identified in the draft risk evaluation is neurological effects from short- and long-term exposure to the chemical. The risk to consumers from this chemical’s use in dry cleaning is from skin exposure to items cleaned with perchloroethylene. The agency also found environmental risks to aquatic organisms. It is important to remember that these initial determinations are not EPA’s final determinations on whether this chemical presents unreasonable risks under the conditions of use.

This draft risk evaluation and the initial risk determinations are not a final action. This draft represents the agency’s preliminary conclusions, findings, and determinations on perchloroethylene and will be peer reviewed by independent scientific experts. The draft risk evaluation includes input from other EPA offices as well as other federal agencies. The agency will use feedback received from the public comment and peer review processes to inform the final risk determinations. 

Using Products Safely

While the risks found in the draft risk evaluation, including those for dry cleaning uses, do not require any action at this time, the information below provides ways to reduce exposure.  

For any chemical product, EPA strongly recommends that users carefully follow all instructions on the product’s label and on the safety data sheets. Workers using perchloroethylene products should continue to follow the label/safety data sheets and applicable workplace regulations and should properly use appropriate personal protective equipment, as needed. Additionally, safety data sheets developed by the manufacturer provide instructions on the proper use of this chemical including using the product in well-ventilated areas.

Consumers wishing to avoid exposure should ask retailers if products used contain perchloroethylene and consider not using products that do contain this chemical. Consumers also can choose to not use products where they do not know the active ingredients. EPA understands that the risks from dry cleaning found in the draft risk evaluation may be concerning. To the extent that consumers want to avoid exposure to this chemical, they can ask which chemicals are used to clean their clothes and make the choice that’s right for them based on this information. It is important to note that use of perchloroethylene in dry cleaning has decreased over time as companies shift to alternative chemicals and new technologies.

Public Participation, Peer Review, and Next Steps

The draft risk evaluation is available for comment until July 6, 2020 in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0502.  This comment period is an opportunity for the public to submit any additional information to assist EPA in completing the final risk evaluation for perchloroethylene. EPA will consider all comments submitted on the draft risk evaluation when developing a final risk evaluation.

EPA is committed to being open and transparent as the agency follows the process required by the law for evaluating unreasonable risks from chemicals. EPA will continue to keep the public updated as the agency moves through the risk evaluation process. Following the comprehensive risk evaluation process required by TSCA ensures that EPA has confidence in our final conclusions about whether a chemical substance poses any unreasonable risks of injury to health or the environment under the specific conditions of use. This then allows the public to have confidence in the safety of chemicals on the market.

The next step in the risk evaluation process is public participation. EPA is asking the public to provide input on the draft risk evaluation to ensure that the Agency is using the best available science and making decisions based on the weight of scientific evidence.

The draft risk evaluation will be peer reviewed by a panel of independent, scientific experts on May 26-29, 2020. EPA goes beyond what TSCA requires by peer reviewing the risk evaluations it releases in order to increase public transparency in the risk evaluation process and receive expert feedback on the science that underlies the risk determinations. Learn more about the peer review.

EPA’s preliminary risk determinations may change in response to comments from the public and from scientific experts conducting a peer review on the draft risk evaluation. If EPA’s final risk evaluation finds there are unreasonable risks associated with this chemical under the specific conditions of use, the agency will propose actions to address any unreasonable risks within the timeframe required by TSCA. This could include proposed regulations to prohibit or limit the manufacture, processing, distribution in the marketplace, use, or disposal of this chemical, as applicable.

Draft Risk Evaluation and Supporting Files

Supplemental File: Occupational Exposure Risk Calculator(151 K)

Supplemental File: Consumer Inhalation Risk Calculations(226 K)

Supplemental File: Consumer Dermal Risk Calculator(253 K)

You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.