Trichloroethylene Health Effects: A Case for Replacement

Trichloroethylene (TCE) has been used since the 1920s for a variety of purposes. Today, it’s primarily known as an industrial solvent used in degreasing applications. TCE works well as a general purpose degreaser for industrial jobs, but it poses health problems to those who apply it consistently, and it can even affect workers who apply it on a one-off basis for spot degreasing needs. If you receive acute exposure to TCE vapor, you could experience any of the following trichloroethylene health effects:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Headaches
  • Mucous membrane irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • CNS problems

Citing a studies on the effects of TCE from the 1970s, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has this to say about the effects of acute exposure to TCE: “Exposure to TCE air levels of 27 ppm for one to four hours caused drowsiness and mucous membrane irritation, and at 81 ppm, headaches … An 8-hour exposure (two 4-hour exposures separated by 1.5 hours) to 110 ppm TCE for two 4-hr periods resulted in decreased performance on tests of perception, memory, reaction time, and dexterity.”

The trichloroethylene health effects of chronic exposure paint a darker picture. According to ATSDR, chronic exposure to the levels of TCE listed above can precipitate the following serious health problems that may not go away:

  • Neurological effects
  • Hepatic and renal effects
  • Cardiac effects
  • Reproductive and developmental effects
  • Carcinogenic effects

It reads like a laundry list of things that no company would want to befall its workers. This is why many companies have made the move to replace TCE with an application-compatible solvent that has a considerably better safety profile. More on that later.

Exposure Limits

The exposure limits above are rather high considering the hazardous effects of TCE, but these levels — and levels even higher — are what you might find in an industrial work setting, where TCE is used as a degreaser for business-critical solvent applications. The presence of TCE in such settings appears to be on its way out. A July 2015 news release from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states the EPA is “taking regulatory action to reduce exposure to this chemical.”

TCE Replacements

TCE is a solvent with a nearly 100-year history. It’s done a great job as a degreaser for many organizations. Yet, like many other solvents of TCE’s generation, using the solution at high exposure levels involves too many current and long-term risks for companies and their workforce.

If your company uses a TCE solvent and needs a replacement, Ecolink can supply a stock solution or custom cleaner that delivers the same efficacy, without all of the hazardous trichloroethylene health effects. To demonstrate the effectiveness of your new degreaser, we’ll even send you a free sample you can use for your TCE-based cleaning operations.

To get started on selecting a TCE replacement, please call us today at (800) 563-1305, or use the contact form on our website. We look forward to supplying you with a safer solvent that the EPA won’t regulate.