Companies can voluntarily stop using trichloroethylene (TCE) where it poses a risk to workers and the environment — or the EPA will step in and regulate some uses of the solvent, Bloomberg reports.
The news agency quotes Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, director of the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), at a July 29 workshop: “Voluntary efforts are frequently quicker and more cost-effective than regulations,” Cleland-Hamnett said. “But where we can’t do it through voluntary efforts, we will pursue regulations.”
The EPA isn’t concerned about TCE used in refrigerant manufacturing, its primary use in the US. This poses minimal exposure risks, the agency says.
The EPA is, however, concerned about worker exposure to the chemical in commercial degreasing operations and dry cleaning, as well as consumer exposure through various products that contain TCE such as such as automotive degreasing products, home office toner aids, home mirror edge sealant and arts and crafts fixatives or cleaners.
Because of their exposure to TCE, thousands of workers in small commercial degreasing shops and dry cleaning facilities face an increased risk of cancer and giving birth to children with cardiac or other health problems, OPPT says.
In June, the EPA released a final risk assessment for TCE.