Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a colorless, nonflammable chemical compound with a sweet smell that is used in industrial applications and consumer products. A primary use of TCE is in the degreasing of metal parts. TCE is also used as a solvent to dissolve greases, oils, fats, waxes, and tars. It is also used as an intermediate in the manufacturing of other chemicals. TCE can also be found in consumer products like typewriter correction fluids, paint removers, adhesives, spot removers, and carpet cleaners. TCE is water soluble. This means that it has the potential to contaminate groundwater, surface water, and drinking water. In fact, TCE is one of the most prolific groundwater contaminants. Some estimates suggest that as much as 30% or more of drinking water sources have some level of TCE contamination. However, most regulated sources comply with requirements that TCE content be lowered below the maximum contaminant level of 5 µg/L. EPA has identified the following types of products currently in commerce. This list is provided for informational purposes only. EPA and its employees do not endorse any of the products or companies.
Products containing TCE include:
Aerosol spray degreasers
Mirror edge sealants
Tap and die fluid
Lace wig and hair extension glues
Land disposal of halogenated organic solvents, such as TCE, is restricted (53 FR 25760). Proper authorization must be obtained from federal, state, and local authorities for land disposal of TCE or TCE-containing materials. According to TRI, in 2015, 91,183,302 lbs. of TCE were transferred offsite to landfills and/or other treatment/disposal facilities, and 1,928,867 lbs. were released to air, water, and land.
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