The EPA’s News for Trichloroethylene Manufacturers

Since the 1920s, the halogenated chemical compound trichloroethylene has been used for a variety of purposes around the world, including anesthesia, separation of oil from vegetables, and industrial cleaning. Today, many years after being banned for food uses (1977) and identified as a probable cause of cancer (1987), trichloroethylene is primarily recognized as an industrial solvent that is used for degreasing, spot cleaning, and formulating spray fixatives.

However, even these uses of the toxic solvent appear to be on their way out the door after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided the following statement via news release in July 2015: “EPA Reaches Agreement with Manufacturer to Stop Use of TCE in Spray Fixative Products Used on Arts and Crafts. EPA also taking regulatory action to reduce exposure to this chemical.”

The statement follows a 2014 statement from the EPA that came from the organization’s final risk assessment of trichloroethylene. In that statement, the EPA clarified that it has “identified health risks from TCE exposures to consumers using spray aerosol degreasers and spray fixatives” and “health risks to workers when TCE is used as a degreaser in small commercial shops and as a stain removing agent in dry cleaning.”

Bad News for Trichloroethylene Manufacturers
The EPA’s findings on trichloroethylene are reminiscent of its findings on asbestos in the 1970s that led to the severe regulation of asbestos and banned the new use of the product in 1989 — a ruling that was later revised to be less stringent. Asbestos is still used in certain capacities in the U.S., and trichloroethylene may have the same future, but large-scale use of the solvent will almost certainly be banned, forcing trichloroethylene manufacturers to find new revenue streams and organizations that use a high volume of the solvent to search out non toxic replacements.

Like asbestos regulations, trichloroethylene regulations will be enforced under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Violators will face as yet to be finalized penalties that could range from escalating fines for repeat violations to the forced, temporary closure of business outfits that remain in violation even after fines are imposed. However, the increasing availability of highly efficacious, non toxic trichloroethylene replacements means that things needn’t come to that point for even the biggest trichloroethylene users.

Good News for Big Trichloroethylene Users
What is bad news for trichlorethylene manufacturers is ultimately good news for large-scale users of the solvent. They may be forced to abandon the use of trichloroethylene for certain applications and significantly curtail its use for others. But, in largely replacing the solution with one or more non toxic solvents, they stand to benefit financially by having a healthier workforce, one that won’t take sick days, file workers compensation claims, or file toxic torts (i.e., chemical injury lawsuits) due to the deleterious effects of trichloroethylene exposure.

The key, of course, is identifying non toxic solvents that work as drop-in replacements for trichloroethylene — a task that should involve the guidance of an experienced supplier of environmentally preferred and environmentally safe solvents, especially for organizations that don’t have a dedicated team of chemists. If your organization needs assistance finding safe trichloroethylene replacements that are as efficacious as the infamous solvent, Ecolink will help.

Contact Us for Toxic Solvent Replacements
Ecolink specializes in providing best in class, eco friendly replacements for toxic solvents such as trichloroethylene. Our non toxic solutions have no EPA listed hazardous ingredients and help our customers avoid costly government fines and the financial fallout that results from chemically injured workers. To identify the best replacement solvents for your unique needs, please call us today at (800) 563-1305, or fill out the contact form on our website.

Using a Replacement for TCE to Eliminate Phosgene Gas

For decades, companies have used chlorinated solvents such as TCE to perform a variety of industrial cleaning operations. However, like many solvents of its generation, scientific analysis has shown that TCE can produce a variety of negative health effects due to chronic or acute exposure to the substance. In many cases, negative health effects result from the purposeful or inadvertent heating of TCE, which can produce toxic phosgene gas that is easy to inhale.

Why is Phosgene Gas Dangerous?
Phosgene is a toxic, poisonous gas that has a musty odor that smells similar to hay. The gas is considered so hazardous, in fact, that it was used as a chemical weapon in WWI to induce choking. The gas is not found naturally in the environment, and many safety organizations are working hard to keep it that way, as well as to protect workers from phosgene exposure by creating exposure limits that help prevent chronic health issues that result from overexposure.

The current occupational exposure limit for phosgene emissions is 0.1 parts per million during an eight-hour work shift. While the exposure limit helps reduce negative health effects in workers who are exposed to phosgene, the safest practice is to eliminate the source of the gas by finding a replacement for TCE. This is because even low-level, acute exposure to phosgene can produce temporary, negative health effects in workers that hinder productivity, such as:

  • Coughing and chest discomfort
  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Blurry vision and watery eyes
  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • Heart issues affecting overall health

It should be noted that some negative health effects from phosgene exposure take up to two days to manifest. This is why workers who inhale phosgene gas are recommended to see a doctor before they return to work. A physician who is experienced in recognizing phosgene exposure looks for delayed signs of negative reactions to the gas and advises those who have been exposed to the toxic agent as to whether it is safe to return to the work environment.

Contact Us for a Replacement for TCE
If the information above makes it seem that using TCE is not worth the risks associated with deploying the solvent, you are right. Considering that cleaning solutions that have a far better safety profile than TCE are readily available, finding a replacement for TCE is only sensible. If your organization is in the market for a replacement for TCE, Ecolink can provide an industrial cleaner that has the same cleaning power as TCE but does not create phosgene gas emissions.

Depending on the requirements of your industrial cleaning processes, you may be able to use one of our readymade cleaners as a replacement for TCE. If not, we will analyze your needs and produce a custom cleaning solution that is tailored to your unique requirements. To find out which option would work best, contact us today at (800) 563-1305, or complete the contact form on our website. We look forward to providing you with a safe, effective replacement for TCE!


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Using TCE Cleaner Degreaser: Frequently Asked Questions

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a chemical compound that is classified as a halocarbon. TCE has been used as a cleaner degreaser for several years with excellent results. In addition to displaying great efficacy for industrial degreasing operations, the compound also has the added benefits of being non-flammable and exhibiting a “sweet smell” that isn’t as offensive to the nose as some other degreasers in the class. Despite these benefits, TCE is highly dangerous to use.

Questions About Using TCE
If your organization uses TCE cleaner degreaser and is looking for a replacement degreaser that has a better safety profile for humans and the environment, you may have some questions about the dangers of TCE and how to go about selecting a proper substitute. To help provide you with information about the use and replacement of TCE, we present a list of questions that are commonly asked about these issues. To receive more information, contact Ecolink today.

Is it true that TCE can cause cancer?
Recent research has determined that TCE cleaner degreaser contains carcinogens that could lead to the development of cancer. The risk is greatest for workers exposed to the compound on a regular basis. Long exposure times can pose a significant risk for the development of cancer.

Does TCE cause other health problems?
Chronic exposure to TCE is associated with the worst health outcomes, especially cancer, but acute exposure to the compound can also create the following, troublesome health problems, among others: upset stomach, dizziness, drowsiness, and irritation to the eyes, skin, and throat.

How does TCE negatively impact the environment?
TCE is identified as a contributor to global warming due to substance’s release of toxic emissions into the atmosphere. In addition to causing toxic air pollution, the compound can also cause soil pollution and water pollution that negatively impact fauna, aquatic life, and plant life.

What is the EPA’s stance on the use of TCE?
The EPA recognizes the dangers of TCE. In 2015, the organization issued this news release: “EPA Reaches Agreement with Manufacturer to Stop Use of TCE in Spray Fixative Products Used on Arts and Crafts. EPA also taking regulatory action to reduce exposure to this chemical”.

What measures are recommended for safe use of TCE?
The use of TCE in any capacity is considered unsafe. However, using ventilation systems that trap airborne contaminants in areas where the compound is used, as well as supplying high-level personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who use TCE, can improve safety.

What is the best option for replacing TCE cleaners?
Ecolink provides an excellent replacement cleaner for TCE cleaner degreaser in FluoSolv CX. FluoSolv CX is not identified as a CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic, and Reproductive Toxin). In addition, Fluosolv CX can be used in smaller amounts than TCE to achieve the same effect.

Contact Ecolink Today
The dangers of TCE were reported as early as 1932. Since then, the toxicity of the compound has become better understood through scientific analysis and testing. This is why Ecolink offers FluoSolv CX — an industrial degreaser whose safety profile is vastly better than TCE — as an ideal TCE replacement. We also provide custom formulations for replacing TCE. Call us today at (800) 563-1305 to discuss the best replacement option for your TCE cleaner degreaser.


What is Trichloroethylene (TCE) and Why is it Hazardous?

What is trichloroethylene (TCE)? The question is often asked by companies and organizations that have never used cleaners that contain the chemical but have heard good and bad things about using it on a consistent basis. According to Wikipedia, TCE is “a halocarbon commonly used as an industrial solvent. It is a clear non-flammable liquid with a sweet smell [and] should not be confused with 1,1,1-trichloroethane, which is commonly [identified] as chlorothene.

A Good Start With a Bad End
Soon after it was invented in Britain in the early decades of the 20th Century, TCE was promoted as a cutting edge anesthetic that was said to possess less hepatotoxicity than chloroform and lacked the unpleasant smell and flammability of ether. However, after further scientific research into TCE, it was found to be as dangerous as its previously mentioned counterparts, although the danger of using the chemical compound was responded to slowly.

In fact, trichloroethylene (TCE) was still used as a self-administered, inhalation analgesic to aid with childbirth until the early 1980s, when developed countries officially began to consider the substance dangerous for human use. In fact, today, the Agency for Toxic and Disease Substances (ATSDR) classifies trichloroethylene (TCE) as a hazardous substance that has the following, undesirable — if not outright dangerous — characteristics that establish its toxicity.

  • Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen (EPA)
  • Carcinogenic to humans (IARC)
  • Classified as a volatile organic compound (ATSDR)
  • Candidate substance for toxic status (NTP)

If your company or organization still uses TCE for cleaning operations or other procedures, it faces two problems: The chronic use of the chemical compound can have deleterious effects on human health, and the environmental protection agency seems poised to add TCE to its list of toxic substances that was instituted following the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1990. In fact, The EPA already regulates the presence of TCE in drinking water to help protect public health.

Finding a Replacement for TCE
In addition to its use in humans, Trichloroethylene (TCE) has a long history of being used to remove grease from fabricated metal parts to facilitate textile production. In many sectors, it’s most common application continues to be as a degreasing agent for breaking up tough accumulations quickly. However, companies are not left in the difficult position of deciding whether to use TCE or not.

Instead, they can work with Ecolink and identify a TCE replacement that works just as well or better for degreasing jobs. One option is replacing TCE with NuGenTec FluoSolv® CX. Unlike TCE, NuGenTec FluoSolv® CX offers the following, health-related and environmental benefits.

  • Not a carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reproductive toxin (CMR)
  • Solution has a high exposure limit up to 200 ppm
  • Has an annual consumption level of two tonnes a year
  • Has low global warming potential (50 compared to TCE’s 140)
  • Created to be Chemically stable (no need for stabilizers)
  • Eliminates a liquid waste stream (reduces waste disposal costs)

These reasons should be more than enough to motivate your company or organization to reach out us to discuss Trichloroethylene (TCE) replacement solutions if it uses the toxic substance. If our ideal TCE replacement solution for degreasing, NuGenTec FluoSolv® CX, doesn’t meet your unique needs, don’t worry. We will create a custom solution that is tailored to address your requirements. Call us today at (800) 563-1305, or refer to the contact page on our website.

Alternative Cleaners for TCE – Why Switch?

TCE, which is the acronym used for Trichloroethylene, has been classified as a Category Two Carcinogen. The risk phase associated with a Category Two Carcinogen reads as follows: “R-45 Risk Phase – May Cause Cancer. “ If your industrial business happens to be using TCE currently, and you are only now becoming aware of its hazardous chemical makeup, you need to make a change. Now. Already, the answer to the posed question in the title of this blog has been answered with absolutely zero equivocation. Any product that has a tagline that reads: “May Cause Cancer” immediately and with absolutely no prejudice. Though the cancer causing agents are, by far, the worst problem and highest risk associated with TCE, the chemical agent can also irritate eyes, skin, and throat, and the vapors can cause drowsiness and dizziness. In addition, TCE has been determined to be a threatening agent that increases the risk of Global Warming, is a hazardous air pollutant (making it subject to annual reporting requirements), and is chemically unstable and requires stabilizers, especially when being used as a vapor degreaser. Pertaining to use as a vapor degreaser, because of its extremely high boiling point and high heat of vaporization, TCE is one of the highest energy consumers for a chemical compound. Moreover, with regard to the previously mentioned chemical instability, because TCE is highly unstable, the solvent must be periodically removed and replaced with a new, fresh solvent, which results in a liquid waste stream, in addition to a much higher associated cost and expense.

In short, TCE is bad news, and if your industrial business is still using this chemical compound, hopefully you are on the phone with Ecolink already trying to make the switch to a safer alternative. One such alternative that is suggested as a substitute for TCE is FluoSolv CX. Right off the bat, FluoSolv CX is not labeled as a CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic, and Reproductive Toxin), and TCE is. In other words, FluoSolv CX is not made up of chemical compounds that can kill people and pollute the environment. FluoSolv CX has an exposure limit of 200 ppm (parts per million). In case that sounds worrisome, it should not be. Instead, what should be worrisome is that the exposure limit for TCE is 5 ppm. In addition, FluoSolv CX is not considered a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) the way TCE is, and FluoSolv CX is made up of a blend of stable molecules that do not disintegrate in vapor degreasers, therefore no stabilizers are needed, which is the exact opposite of TCE. Finally, FluoSolv CX has a much lower boiling point than TCE, a much lower heat of vaporization, meaning it requires much less energy for vapor degreasing, unlike TCE, which require more than most chemical molecules, and does not generate a liquid waste stream. In other words, FluoSolv CX is a much more environmentally friendly choice over TCE, which is not environmentally friendly whatsoever.

If your industrial business is using TCE, please consider making the switch to FluoSolv CX, which is a much safer and less expensive option for cleaning and degreasing your industrial products.