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EPA Releases Final Risk Assessment on TCE

The EPA has released a final risk assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical the agency says may harm human health and the environment.

The final risk assessment identifies health risks from TCE exposures to workers when TCE is used as a degreaser in small commercial shops and as a stain removing agent in dry cleaning. It also identifies health risks to consumers using spray aerosol degreasers and spray fixatives.

TCE is carcinogenic to humans and can harm the central nervous system, kidneys, the liver, the male reproductive system, the immune system, and can cause abnormalities in developing fetuses, according to the EPA’s human health assessment.

The final TCE risk assessment was developed as part of the agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, which identified chemicals for review and assessment of potential risks. TCE is the first chemical to complete the work plan risk assessment process under TSCA.

The EPA is conducting a workshop from July 29-30, on potential TCE degreaser alternatives and risk reduction approaches. EPA will conduct other activities to address TCE uses as a stain-removing agent in dry cleaning and as a clear protective spray fixative.

In the meantime, EPA recommends that workers take precautions that can reduce exposures, such as using the product outside or in an extremely well-ventilated area and wearing protective equipment to reduce exposure.

In late 2012-2013, Google employees were exposed to high levels of TCE at the company’s satellite campus on a Superfund toxic waste site, according to an EPA report. Between mid-November 2012 and mid-January 2013, after workers disabled part of the air ventilation system at an office complex in Mountain View, Calif., levels of TCE in two Google office buildings exceeded concentrations deemed safe by the EPA.

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