Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a man-made solvent, with many properties that make it an excellent degreasing agent, including: high solvency; low flammability; non corrosiveness; and high stability. One of this solvent's major uses is a cleaning agent, and it is an intermediate in specialty chemicals formulation.
TCE has been listed by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen and a possible reproductive hazard (teratogen). Acute exposure to TCE affects the central nervous system, the kidneys and the liver. Because of its potential health effects, this chemical is regulated throughout its lifecycle. Many uses are heavily restricted due to its toxicity.
In 2009, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts designated TCE to be a "Higher Hazard Substance", and requires users to report use of over 1000 pounds per year and to plan for a safer alternative.
The TURI Green Cleaning Laboratory texts performance of safer alternatives to help you find solutions. The lab's online database of testing data is an easy tool for selecting possible options for reducing use of TCE in parts cleaning.
Companies in the metal products, electronics, wiring devices and metalworking/fabrication sectors were able to reduce their use of TCE by large percentages, and have recent incentives to continue this trend.
Companies using TCE for synthesis feedstock in paints, adhesives, and cleaners or who package and distribute it have reduced use by about 50%.