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Trichloroethylene

Overview

CAS No. 79-01-6

Trichloroethylene (CICH=CCl2) is a colorless liquid with a chloroform-like odor. Trichloroethylene may cause irritation to the eyes and skin. Exposure to high concentrations can cause dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, unconsciousness, liver damage, and even death. trichloroethylene is a known carcingen. Workers may be harmed from exposure to trichloroethylene. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.

Trichloroethylene is used in many industries. It is mostly used  as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts, but it is also an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to trichloroethylene include the following:

  • Workers who use this substance for metal degreasing
  • Workers who use it as an extraction solvent for greases, oils, fats, waxes, and tars
  • Factory workers in the textile processing industry who use it to scour cotton, wool, and other fabrics
  • Dry cleaning workers who use it to remove spots
  • Factory workers in plants that manufacture pharmaceuticals
  • Chemical workers who use it to make other chemicals

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries. If you work in an industry that uses trichloroethylene, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheets for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to trichloroethylene. Useful search terms for trichloroethylene include “ethylene trichloride,” “TCE,” “trichloroethene,” and  “trilene.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

Manual of Analytical Methods

The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

Health Hazard Evaluations

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on trichloroethylene.

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

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