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EPA requests input on draft risk evaluation for perchloroethylene

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Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a draft risk evaluation that states the chemical substance perchloroethylene poses an unreasonable risk to workers under certain conditions, according to a notice published in the May 4 Federal Register.

Frequently used in consumer products, perchloroethylene – also known as tetrachloroethylene or PCE – is the last of the first 10 chemicals to be evaluated for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, as outlined in November 2016.

The draft states that perchloroethylene poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in:

  • Paint and coating removal
  • Adhesive and sealant processing
  • Dry cleaning
  • Vapor degreasing
  • Pesticide, fertilizer and other agricultural chemical manufacturing
  • Spot cleaning in textile processing
  • Wood furniture manufacturing

“The primary health risk identified in the draft risk evaluation is neurological effects from short- and long-term exposure to the chemical,” EPA states. “The risk to consumers from this chemical’s use in dry cleaning is from skin exposure to items cleaned with perchloroethylene.”

As required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the Lautenberg Act amended, the draft risk evaluation is slated to undergo a virtual peer review May 26-29 during a meeting of the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals. Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due July 6.


A 2017 study published in the journal BMJ Open found occupational exposure to perchloroethylene may increase women’s risk of head and neck cancer.

After EPA solicited comments on problem formation documents for the first 10 chemicals, the agency submitted its first draft risk evaluation, for Pigment Violet 29, in November 2018. Subsequent draft risk evaluations have followed over the past 18 months.

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