Proper waste disposal, especially when handling hazardous chemicals, is extremely important to ensure the safety of the environment and all surrounding life. Unfortunately, toxic chemicals are not always disposed of correctly, and sometimes other factors, such as leaks from storage tanks or spills, can lead to the presence of contaminants in the environment.
One example of an alarming chemical contaminant is trichloroethylene, or TCE, which has been found to contaminate groundwater and drinking water sources in various locations around the U.S.
In 2015, TCE was found to contaminate the public water systems in 36 states, specifically about 300 water sources.
What Is Trichloroethylene?
Trichloroethylene is an organic solvent that is mostly used industrially for degreasing metal equipment and machinery. Though its primary use is as a degreasing agent, the chemical is also used in other industrial and commercial applications, such as:
- Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant manufacturing
- Extraction solvent in the textile industry
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing
- Spot removers
- Paint remover additive
- Paint thinner additive
- Adhesive additive
- Lubricant additive
Why Is Trichloroethylene in Drinking Water a Concern?
TCE in drinking water is alarming because of the negative effects it may cause on a person’s health, particularly when ingested:
- TCE is a known carcinogen that may cause kidney cancer, liver cancer, or lymphoma.
- Moderate TCE exposure can cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, nausea, eye irritation, and/or respiratory irritation.
- High TCE exposure can cause kidney damage, liver damage, neurological damage, permanent cardiac issues, fetal damage, unconsciousness, and even death.
- The elderly and very young children are the most vulnerable to TCE health effects.
While TCE usually evaporates quickly out of surface water, it can remain and accumulate in groundwater for years, where it is not able to evaporate. Many companies are now becoming aware of the long-term effects of TCE usage and have begun to switch to more sustainable and environmentally-friendly options.
Interested in Eco-friendly Industrial Chemicals?
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