Trichloroethylene, also known as TCE, is one of the most common solvents used in various industrial cleaning applications, especially as a degreaser for metal parts and equipment.
Though it has been relied on by many industries for decades, trichloroethylene’s effects on humans are damaging and long-lasting, especially for industrial workers that are consistently directly exposed to this harsh chemical.
To learn more about TCE and the dangerous side effects associated with this solvent, then read on.
What is Trichloroethylene?
Trichloroethylene is a halocarbon solution that is non-flammable, clear, and has a slightly sweet odor. This chemical is also an effective degreasing agent and is utilized in the manufacturing of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants.
TCE is a popular solvent for vapor degreasing because of its desirable physical and chemical properties:
- High boiling point, enabling stronger removal of debris than a low boiling point solvent
- High solvency
- No flash point
- High stability
Dangers and Effects of Trichloroethylene
The use of the chemical was only recently banned altogether in the state of Minnesota and its use in consumer products is banned in the EU due to the risks the chemical poses to human health. Here are only some of the major health effects TCE has on humans:
- It is a known carcinogen, increasing the risk of kidney cancer, liver cancer, and lymphoma
- Moderate exposure can cause headaches, dizziness, confusion, and nausea
- High exposure can cause a coma, kidney damage, liver damage, neurological damage, or even death
- Evidence shows it may cause reproductive damage
- TCE is a contaminant, sometimes leaching into groundwater and drinking water sources through industrial storage tanks, putting unsuspecting people at risk of negative health effects
Due to this solvent’s negative effects on both humans and the environment, companies are beginning to search for non-hazardous, effective replacements that can ensure the safety of their workers without compromising quality. Using non-hazardous chemicals also limits the number of regulations that companies must deal with and can be more cost-effective in the long run.
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