EPA Proposes Banning Two Uses of TCE

Published December 14, 2016

Last week, EPA issued a proposal to prohibit the manufacture, import, processing, and distribution in commerce of trichloroethylene (TCE) for use as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning and as an aerosol degreaser. The proposal requires manufacturers, processers, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the ban. EPA recently listed TCE among the first 10 chemicals that the agency will evaluate for potential risks to human health and the environment under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) legislation, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which was signed into law in June.

EPA’s final risk assessment for TCE, which was published in 2014, identifies occupational health risks to workers who use the chemical as a degreaser in small commercial shops and as a stain-removing agent in dry cleaning. The assessment also addresses health risks to consumers exposed to TCE when using spray aerosol degreasers and spray fixatives. According to the risk assessment, there are cancer risk concerns for users and bystanders occupationally exposed to TCE when using TCE-containing vapor degreasers and spot cleaners. EPA found that occupational exposures to commercial degreasers show the greatest cancer risk when compared to spot-cleaning exposure scenarios.

“For the first time in a generation, we are able to restrict chemicals already in commerce that pose risks to public health and the environment,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Once finalized, [this] 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.”

Comments on the proposed rule must be received within 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register. For more information, see EPA’s press release.