Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist with the Health Program.
Trichloroethylene, or TCE for short, is a very toxic chemical. No doubt about it. Among other health effects, TCE is known to cause cancer and interfere with development. It is also toxic to the immune system and kidneys. While the vast majority of TCE in the U.S. is used to make other chemicals (i.e., is used as a chemical intermediate), approximately 15% of TCE has other commercial and consumer purposes, including as a metal degreaser and spot cleaning agent.
Over the past several years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a hard look at exposures and potential health risks—including to workers, consumers, and bystanders—resulting from certain commercial and consumer uses of TCE. It found clearly excessive risks from these uses, which prompted the agency to take steps to reduce these exposures.
In December 2016, using its authority under section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA proposed a rule to ban the use of TCE as an aerosol degreaser and as a spot cleaning agent in commercial dry cleaning facilities—marking the first time in nearly 3 decades it has tried to restrict a chemical under TSCA. A second proposed rule to ban the use of TCE as a vapor degreaser followed a month later in January 2017 and is undergoing public comment.
The public comment period on the first TCE proposed rule closed recently. EDF filed extensive comments urging the agency to finalize the rule as soon as possible.
Highlights of our comments are below: Read More