USEPA Classifies TCE as a Carcinogen

USEPA Classifies TCE as a Carcinogen

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recently changed its classification of Trichloroethylene (TCE) from "possible human carcinogen" to human carcinogen in its recently released Toxicological Review of Trichloroethylene (EPA/635/R-09/011F, September 28, 2011). 

The Toxicological Review is provides specific details and rationale for USEPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) pertaining to TCE.  TCE is a chemical widely used by industry and is often found at contaminated sites, including hundreds of Superfund facilities across the country.

Trichloroethylene is a colorless, volatile organic compound.  It is nonflammable and has a sweet odor.  TCE is often used as a solvent to clean metal parts or used to create other chemicals. At one time it was used as a surgical anesthetic.

Trichloroethylene can be released to air, water, and soil.  TCE is a problematic compound in soil and water since it breaks down very slowly and is removed mostly through evaporation to air. However, TCE does breaks down quickly in air, making it very likely that it will be included as a contaminant of concern in future vapor intrusion standards.    

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), "Exposure to moderate amounts of trichloroethylene may cause headaches, dizziness, and sleepiness; large amounts may cause coma and even death. Eating or breathing high levels of trichloroethylene may damage some of the nerves in the face. Exposure to high levels can also result in changes in the rhythm of the heartbeat, liver damage, and evidence of kidney damage. Skin contact with concentrated solutions of trichloroethylene can cause skin rashes.  There is some evidence exposure to trichloroethylene in the work place may cause scleroderma (a systemic autoimmune disease) in some people. Some men occupationally-exposed to trichloroethylene and other chemicals showed decreases in sex drive, sperm quality, and reproductive hormone levels.  There is strong evidence that trichloroethylene can cause kidney cancer in people and some evidence for trichloroethylene-induced liver cancer and malignant lymphoma. Lifetime exposure to trichloroethylene resulted in increased liver cancer in mice and increased kidney cancer and testicular cancer in rats.  It is not known whether children are more susceptible than adults to the effects of trichloroethylene.  Some human studies indicate that trichloroethylene may cause developmental effects such as spontaneous abortion, congenital heart defects, central nervous system defects, and small birth weight. However, these people were exposed to other chemicals as well."

Advanced GeoServices has spent decades working on sites contaminated with TCE.  We have designed many solutions for this complex compound and can help you find a solution for your site.  For more information about trichloroethylene, contact:

Steve Kirchner, P.E.
Senior Project Consultant
610.840.9117

Chris Reitman, P.E.
Senior Project Consultant
610.840.9123