Assessing and Managing Chemicals under TSCA

Risk Management for Trichloroethylene (TCE)

What is TCE?

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is produced or imported into the United States, with use estimated to be around 250 million pounds per year. It is a clear, colorless liquid that has a sweet odor and evaporates quickly. TCE is a toxic chemical with human health concerns.

TCE is used as a solvent, as an intermediate for refrigerant manufacture and as a spotting agent in dry cleaning facilities.

The majority (about 84 percent) of TCE is used in a closed system as an intermediate chemical for manufacturing refrigerant chemicals. Much of the remainder (about 15 percent) is used as a solvent for metals degreasing, leaving a small percentage to account for other uses, including use as a spotting agent in dry cleaning and in consumer products.

Why is EPA concerned?

Exposure to TCE raises a number of health effects concerns, including for effects in the developing fetus from both acute and chronic exposure. TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure. Single (acute) or short-term exposure can potentially affect the developing fetus. High acute concentrations of TCE vapors can irritate the respiratory system and skin and induce central nervous system effects such as light-headedness, drowsiness, and headaches. Repeated (chronic) or prolonged exposure to TCE has been associated with effects in the liver, kidneys, immune system, central nervous system.

Learn more about EPA’s risk evaluation efforts for TCE.

What is EPA doing?