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    U.S. EPA Proposes Ban on Trichloroethylene (TCE) in Vapor Degreasing due to Worker Safety Concerns

    January 31, 2017
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    • On January 11, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft of the Federal Register Notice proposing to ban the use of the toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) in vapor degreasing due to significant health risks when used in vapor degreasing. According to its press release, the U.S. EPA is “proposing to prohibit manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of TCE for use in vapor degreasing. EPA is also proposing to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in their supply chains of the prohibitions.” Comments on the proposed rule must be received 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

      Trichloroethylene, also known as TCE or TRIKE, is a toxic volatile organic compound (VOC) that is often used in immersion cleaning, solvent cleaning and vapor degreasing applications. Because TCE poses significant health risks and because viable, safer solvent cleaning alternatives are available, it was only a matter of time before U.S. regulatory agencies proposed a TCE ban or phasedown. As a matter of fact, Europe classified TCE as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) under the EU REACH regulations in 2010 and, as of April 2016, the EU officially sunset the chemical.

      According to the EPA’s analysis (PDF, 335.18 KB), the use of trichloroethylene (TCE) in vapor degreasing presents an unreasonable risk to human health including significant non-cancer risks from exposure. Chronic exposure of TCE in vapor degreasing can result in more serious adverse health effects, including:
       

      • Toxicity to the kidney (such as kidney damage and kidney cancer)
      • Significant cancer risks (such as kidney and liver cancer)
      • Cardiac malformations can be irreversible and impact a person’s health for a lifetime
      • Developmental toxicity, including fetal cardiac malformations that begin in utero
      • Immunotoxicity (such as systemic autoimmune diseases scleroderma, and severe hypersensitivity skin disorder)
      • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
      • Reproductive and endocrine effects (such as decreased libido and potency)
      • Neurotoxicity (such as trigeminal neuralgia)
      • Toxicity to the liver (impaired functioning and liver cancer)

      The EPA’s recent proposal to ban TCE in vapor degreasing, as well as in aerosol degreasers and spot removers in dry cleaning, will help protect workers and consumers from cancer and other serious health risks that can result from exposure to TCE.

      It’s time to transition from TCE to powerful cleaning alternatives with wider margins of safety – 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids!

      We know that the safety of your workers is of the utmost importance for your business and your peace of mind. So, why take the risk of using TCE as a cleaning solvent when safer alternatives are available? 3M Novec fluids were purposefully engineered to provide all the cleaning performance you need, without having to compromise worker safety or negatively impact the planet. We have a wide range of high performing, non-flammable options to choose from.

      Contact us today for a cleaning trial. We’ll even do the cleaning test for you and send you detailed results.

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      3M and Novec are trademarks of 3M Company.
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