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Ten Tips for Replacing Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Safer alternatives exist for nearly every use of trichloroethylene (TCE). The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) Laboratory has helped more than two dozen companies identify and adopt safer alternatives. If you are still using TCE, consider these 10 tips for finding a replacement:

1. Determine why you are cleaning with TCE

If the answer is "because we always have" or "it is the only thing I trust" then it may be time to re-address your cleaning methods. The first thing to do is inform your customers and supply chain that you are going to investigate how to eliminate TCE from your process.

2. Know your process

How long does it take to clean parts? How many do you clean at a time? What equipment could you use (immersion baths, spray washing, or ultrasonics)? Are you willing to evaluate new equipment?

3. Don't start from scratch and don't go it alone

Learn what's already been tested by other companies and then apply your unique requirements. Search the TURI CleanerSolutions database online for hundreds of tests conducted on the latest cleaning alternatives.

4. Test the alternatives

Use the TURI Lab to find out how different cleaners and equipment perform on your parts and soils.

5. Get your workers involved

The people who run the cleaning process in your facility have valuable insight. Get them involved in the selection and testing process to ensure a successful transition.

6. Pilot the alternative

Set up a separate cleaning line to clean parts in the new chemical solution and compare with your current practice.

7. Check in

During the piloting, keep your customers and your supply chain informed of the status of the project. Get their feedback about the quality of the results.

8. Phase in - Phase out

Introduce the new process to part of your production line in a step-wise manner. You can gradually phase out the existing cleaning with TCE.

9. Reevaluate the process

Once TCE has been eliminated, evaluate how well your new process is working. See if you can go further to eliminate more solvents and toxics in other phases of your business.

10. Revisit the process

Congratulations on making the switch, but don't stop thinking about your cleaning process. New chemistries and equipment are being developed all the time so keep your eyes and ears open. Check out the free, online TURI CleanersSolutions database often and ask the TURI Lab to visit again to help you reevaluate.

This information is provided as a public service from the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Established by the State's Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989, TURI provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of local businesses. Names of commercial web sites and private corporations are given for informational purposes only. TURI does not endorse nor recommend private organizations.