Federal agencies Workplace exposures Chemical Manufacturing

EPA releases final risk evaluation for perchloroethylene

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Washington — The chemical substance perchloroethylene poses unreasonable risk to workers under certain conditions, according to a final risk evaluation recently released by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is now compelled to propose within one year regulatory action to mitigate the chemical’s hazards.

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.

A 2017 study published in the journal BMJ Open found occupational exposure to PCE may increase women’s risk of head and neck cancer. Additionally, EPA found that the chemical may be associated with neurological, kidney, liver and immunological effects.

Released by the agency Dec. 14 and announced via a notice published in the Dec. 18 Federal Register, the final evaluation states PCE poses unreasonable risk to workers involved in operations including:

  • 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

EPA published a draft risk evaluation for PCE in the May 4 Federal Register. As required under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which the Lautenberg Act amended, the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals hosted a virtual peer review of the document later that month. Comments on the draft risk evaluation were accepted until July 6.


TSCA requires EPA to address risks by proposing within one year regulatory actions such as training, certification, restricted access and/or ban of commercial use, and then accept public comment on any proposals.

“EPA is moving immediately to risk management for this chemical and will work as quickly as possible to propose and finalize actions to protect against the unreasonable risks,” the agency states.

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