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EPA proposes ban on trichloroethylene use in dry cleaning

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Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to ban certain uses of the chemical trichloroethylene because of health risks associated with the toxic chemical when used as a degreaser and spot removal agent in dry cleaning.

TCE is among the first 10 chemicals EPA is evaluating for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. In 2014, EPA found TCE may cause cancer, developmental and neurotoxicological effects, and toxicity to the liver, among other adverse health effects.

The proposed rule would prohibit all manufacturing, processing and commercial distribution of TCE for use as an aerosol degreaser and as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities. It also would require manufacturers, processors and distributors to notify retailers and others in the supply chain about the ban.

EPA is seeking separate regulatory action to address TCE’s risks when used in vapor degreasing.

“For the first time in a generation, we are able to restrict chemicals already in commerce that pose risks to public health and the environment,” Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said in a Dec. 7 press release. “Once finalized, today’s action will help protect consumers and workers from cancer and other serious health risks when they are exposed to aerosol degreasing, and when dry cleaners use spotting agents.”

Comments on the proposed rule will be due 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

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