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Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Risk Evaluation for Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is currently undergoing risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The 2016 amendments to TSCA directed EPA to pick its first ten chemicals for evaluation from the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments; TCE is on the Work Plan. In February 2020, EPA released the draft risk evaluation for TCE.

In the draft risk evaluation for TCE, EPA did not find unreasonable risk to the environment under any of the conditions of use. Additionally, the draft risk evalution discusses potential risks to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders. These initial determinations may change as our evaluation becomes more refined through the public comment and peer review processes.

Learn about what EPA has done to manage risks on TCE.

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Chemical Description of TCE

TCE is a volatile organic compound used mostly in industrial and commercial processes. An estimated 84% of TCE’s annual production volume is used as an intermediate in the manufacture of the hydrofluorocarbon HFC-134a. Another 15% of TCE production volume is used as a degreasing solvent, leaving approximately 1% for other uses. The total aggregate production volume decreased from 220.5 to 171.9 million pounds between 2012 and 2015.

Conditions of Use Included in the Risk Evaluation, Problem Formulation, and Scope

In the draft risk evaluation, EPA evaluated 54 conditions of use associated with the manufacturing (including import), processing, distribution, use, and disposal of TCE. Uses include the following:

  • Processing as a reactant/intermediate
  • Solvent for batch vapor degreasing (open-top and closed-loop)
  • Cleaning and furniture care product

In June 2017, EPA released the scope document for TCE which included the hazards, exposures, conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations EPA expected to consider in its risk evaluation of TCE conducted pursuant to TSCA section 6(b). In June 2018, EPA released the problem formulation for TCE which refined the scope of the TCE risk evaluation by clarifying the chemical conditions of use that EPA expected to evaluate and describing how EPA expected to conduct the evaluation.

After releasing the scope documents for each of the first 10 chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under TSCA, the dockets for each of the first 10 chemicals were open for public comments. Read EPA’s Responses to Public Comments Received on the Scope Documents for the First Ten Chemicals for Risk Evaluation under TSCA. This document addresses cross-cutting public comments received in response to EPA publishing the scope documents.

Draft Risk Evaluation

In February 2020, EPA released the draft risk evaluation for TCE. It is available for comment in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2019-0500 until April 27, 2020.

Review of TCE Prior to Amended TSCA

Prior to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, EPA completed a risk assessment for TCE and published the following information: