Trichloroethylene — better known by its initialism, TCE — is a halocarbon popularly used as an industrial solvent, but it has a long history that includes various uses in different industries.
For example, TCE was used to extract vegetable oils in the 1920s. It temporarily replaced the anesthetics chloroform and ether in the 1940. And, as of 2000, the halocarbon was still used as an anesthetic in Africa. In the industrial sector, TCE’s legacy is as a highly effective degreaser.
Despite its varied history of use, one thing about TCE has remained the same: its toxicity to animals and humans. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), TCE exposure is related to a variety of health ailments that range from relatively minor to severe. Occupational studies reported from ATSDR show effects of acute and chronic exposure to the halocarbon, signaling the need for a non-toxic trichloroethylene substitute.
Acute exposure is associated with: negative central nervous system (CNS) effects, decreased appetite, gastrointestinal irritation, headaches, disturbance of mucous membranes, and skin irritation. Chronic exposure is associated with more worrisome occurrences: reduced number of word associations, ataxia, decreased appetite, headache, short-term memory loss, sleep disturbances, and vertigo. The higher the exposure limits to TCE, the more the conditions prevail.
The dangerous health effects of TCE — only a small sample of which are listed above — moved the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue the following July 2015 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”
For industrial outfits that use a large volume of TCE and are familiar with how EPA regulations of hazardous chemicals work, the move to regulate the degreaser in industrial settings should become a priority. Businesses in the arts and crafts industry that use TCE as a spray fixative are already affected, but regulations typically proliferate to encompass all situations of industrial, high-volume use.
The EPA’s recent regulation of TCE — limited though it may be — signals the perfect time to start looking for a trichloroethylene substitute. The EPA often moves slowly to ban dangerous chemicals, but it moves surely. Advanced warning of a scheduled regulation or ban is typically announced at least months in advance to give organizations time to find safer, suitable replacement solvents, such as the kind available from Ecolink.
Ecolink manufacturers eco friendly, stock and custom trichloroethylene substitute solutions that offer as much efficacy — if not more — than the cleaner they replace. If one of our stock solvents doesn’t meet your requirements, we can produce a custom formulation that does.
To get started on selecting the right Trichloroethylene substitute for your degreasing operations, call us today at (800) 563-1305, or fill out the contact form on our website. We look forward to providing you with an environmentally preferred solution that’s better for the health of your workers.