In October, 2012, 18 experts from seven countries reassessed the carcinogenicity of several chlorinated solvents and some of their metabolites at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France. These assessments will be published as volume 106 of the IARC Monographs. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was widely used for degreasing metal parts until the 1990s, and in dry cleaning from the 1930s to 1950s. It is still used for stain removal, but its main use is in chlorinated chemical production. An estimated 276,000 workers in the European Union were exposed to TCE in the early 1990s, although occupational exposure levels are decreasing. The general population is exposed through consumer products - including food - and contaminated water. The Working Group classified TCE as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). Biotransformation of TCE, well characterised in humans and animals, occurs primarily through oxidative metabolism by cytochrome P450 enzymes and also via glutathione conjugation by glutathione S-transferase enzymes. The main oxidative metabolites are dichloroacetic acid (DCA), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and chloral hydrate (CH). Metabolites of TCE formed via glutathione conjugation are genotoxic, particularly in kidney cells in which in-situ metabolism occurs.
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