EPA Moves to Ban Certain Uses of TCE


WASHINGTON–The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to ban certain uses of the toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) due to health risks when used as a degreaser and a spot removal agent in dry cleaning.

According to Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, once finalized, today’s action will help protect consumers and workers from cancer and other serious health risks when they are exposed to aerosol degreasing, and when dry cleaners use spotting agents.

EPA identified serious risks to workers and consumers associated with TCE uses in a 2014 assessment that concluded that the chemical can cause a range of adverse health effects, including cancer, development and neurotoxicological effects, and toxicity to the liver.

Specifically, EPA is proposing to prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of TCE for use in aerosol degreasing and for use in spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities.  EPA is also proposing to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the prohibitions.

EPA’s assessment also found risks associated with TCE use in vapor degreasing, and the agency is developing a separate proposed regulatory action to address those risks. Last week, EPA announced the inclusion of TCE on the list of the first ten chemicals to be evaluated for risk under TSCA. That action will allow EPA will evaluate the other remaining uses of the chemical. Today’s action only proposes to ban certain uses of the chemical.