It may come as a surprise to some, but many popular laundry detergents contain multiple toxic chemicals that can potentially affect a person’s health in negative ways. These chemical additives are concerning because detergents leave residue on pieces of clothing even after they are washed and rinsed off—meaning these chemicals remain in close contact with you throughout the day.
While this may not always translate into serious consequences, some detergents can contain various carcinogenic compounds or endocrine disruptors.
Trichloroethylene is one such chemical that is known for being highly toxic and found in many household and industrial products. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at trichloroethylene in laundry detergent and other common products.
Is Trichloroethylene in Laundry Detergent?
Though not many laundry detergents contain trichloroethylene (TCE) specifically, it is a widely used chemical present in many industrial cleaning processes and commercial cleaning products. At the commercial level, it is used as an additive in multiple household products, such as:
- Cleaning wipes
- Aerosol cleaning solutions
- Paint removers
- Spot removers
- Carpet cleaners
- Typewriter correction fluids
At the industrial level, trichloroethylene is primarily used in the vapor degreasing of metal equipment and parts. It is one of the most popular solvents for vapor degreasing because of its desirable properties, such as being non-flammable and having a high boiling point.
Is Trichloroethylene Toxic?
Unfortunately, though widely used in the U.S., the solvent is quite hazardous. The solvent has become increasingly more regulated and is even being phased out by many industries because of the potential health effects it may cause to workers:
- It is a known carcinogen, as it can cause liver cancer, kidney cancer, and lymphoma.
- Moderate exposure levels can cause dizziness, nausea, confusion, headaches, respiratory irritation, eye irritation, and lack of coordination.
- High exposure levels may cause kidney damage, liver damage, neurological damage, unconsciousness, coma, and even death.
TCE has also been shown to contaminate drinking water sources and groundwater through storage tank leaks. Those who live near facilities that utilize TCE may be indirectly exposed to the harmful effects of the solvent.
What Workers Are at Risk of Being Exposed to Unsafe Amounts Of TCE?
- Dry cleaners
- Fabric cleaners
- Rubber cement masoners
- Workers who use vapor degreasers
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