What is Trichloroethylene used for? Trichloroethylene, also known as TCE, is a popular organic solvent used in both industrial and commercial applications. However, TCE is becoming increasingly controversial due to the many negative health effects that come with exposure to this solvent.
Read on to learn more about what trichloroethylene is used for, and the safer alternatives that companies are switching to.
Industrial Uses for TCE
Some of the industrial uses for TCE are as follows:
- TCE is primarily used to degrease metal equipment and machinery. The solvent is particularly popular for vapor degreasing, as its non-flammability and high boiling point make it an effective grease remover.
- TCE is also used as raw material in the production of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.
- In the textile industry, TCE is used as an extraction solvent to remove impurities, such as fats, waxes and oils, from certain fabrics like cotton and wool.
- Mostly in the pharmaceutical industry, TCE is used as the chemical intermediate in the manufacturing of drugs.
Trichloroethylene is also used as an ingredient in many household products, such as:
- Typewriter correction fluids
- Spot removers
- Paint removers
- Paint thinners
- Carpet cleaners
Risks of Using TCE
Though widely used in the United States, trichloroethylene use is being questioned by many companies and the public. The solvent poses many health risks to thousands of workers who are exposed to it:
- TCE increases the risk of certain cancers, such as liver cancer, kidney cancer and lymphoma.
- Moderate TCE exposure may cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, nausea, fatigue, eye irritation and respiratory irritation.
- High TCE exposure may cause damage to a fetus, kidneys, central nervous system, and the liver. It may also cause permanent cardiac issues, neurological damage, loss of coordination, memory loss, unconsciousness and potentially death.
On top of exposing industrial workers to potentially serious adverse effects, the solvent is known to contaminate hundreds of drinking water sources in the country. Trichloroethylene can leak from industrial storage tanks and seep into groundwater, where it is not able to evaporate and accumulates over years. Spills from decades ago are still a concern in the present day.
Because of the risks associated with trichloroethylene usage, green solvents are becoming increasingly popular at the industrial level. These solvents can ensure the protection of workers’ health, and the environment, and end up saving companies more money in the long run.
Interested in Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Hazardous Chemicals?
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