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Tetrachloroethylene Associated with Nervous System Disorders

Washington, DC: People who work in environments that use the toxic solvent tetrachloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethene, TCE, perchloroethylene, Perc and PCE, may be at risk for serious illness, possibly including cancer.

Specifically, people who work in drycleaning facilities or perform metal-degreasing could come into contact with tetrachloroethylene by inhaling the fumes. Tetrachloroethylene is also used in a number of other products including spot removers, paint removers, and adhesives. It is recognizable by its sweet, sharp smell.

High concentrations of tetrachloroethylene may be experienced in closed, poorly ventilated environments. Symptoms include dizziness, headache, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, difficulty in speaking and walking, unconsciousness, and death.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registery (Dept of Health and Human Resources), "Results from some studies suggest that women who work in dry cleaning industries where exposures to tetrachloroethylene can be quite high may have more menstrual problems and spontaneous abortions than women who are not exposed."

The department of Health and Human Services has determined that tetrachloroethylene is a carcinogen. Consequently, the Environmental Protection Agency has set a maximum contaminant level for drinking water of 0.005 milligrams tetrachloroethylene per liter of water (0.005 mg/L). And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set a limit of 100 ppm for an 8-hour workday over a 40-hour workweek. People who feel they may be at risk can have a simple blood test done to determine their exposure level.

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Published on Mar-11-10


Posted by

Worked in the Chemical industry for 42 years, with my early years contacting PCE. Experienced some 30 percent of my units work group developing, mostly dying from various cancers before age 60. I developed large B cell lymphoma in 2014, was diagnosed early and is in remission.


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