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Trichloroethylene

Overview
 
CAS Number: 79-01-6
Synonyms: TCE, Trichloroethene
Contaminant Type: Chemical

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is used primarily in metal degreasing operations. It is also used as a solvent for greases, oils, fats and tars, in paint removers, coatings and vinyl resins, and by the textile processing industry to scour cotton, wool and other fabrics. TCE may be used as a chemical intermediate in the production of polyvinyl chloride, pharmaceuticals, flame retardant chemicals and insecticides [1629]. TCE can also be found in household chemicals such as typewriter correction fluids and spot removers. [1251]

It has been found in underground water sources and many surface waters as a result of the manufacture, use, and disposal of the chemical [1251]. TCE may be introduced into surface water and groundwater in industrial effluents. Poor handling as well as improper disposal of TCE in landfills have been the main causes of groundwater contamination. The biodegradation of another volatile organic pollutant, tetrachloroethene (or perchloroethylene, PCE), in groundwater may also lead to the formation of TCE. [1629]

Because of their volatility, TCE and related solvents are seldom detected in concentrations greater than a few micrograms per liter in surface waters [1622], where volatilization is the principal route of degradation, while photodegradation and hydrolysis play minor roles [1629]. However, bodies of fresh water receiving wastewater discharges may contain elevated concentrations of organic solvents during periods of ice cover when volatilization is restricted [1622]. In groundwater, TCE is degraded slowly by microorganisms. Bioconcentration of trichloroethene in aquatic species is low. [1629]

Trichloroethylene has been detected in many samples taken from drinking water supplied by contaminated sources from which trichloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds are not always completely removed by conventional water treatment. The EPA Groundwater Supply Survey of finished water from 945 drinking water systems nationwide using groundwater sources found trichloroethylene in 91 water systems (detection limit 0.2 ppb); the median level of the positive samples was approximately 1 μg /L, with a single maximum level of 130 μg /L, as reported in 1984. A summary of U.S. groundwater analyses from both federal and state studies reported that trichloroethylene was the most frequently detected organic solvent and the one present in the highest concentration, as reported in 1982.  An analysis of the EPA STORET Data Base (1980-1982) found that trichloroethylene had been positively detected in 28% of 9,295 surface water reporting stations nationwide. [1252] As of 2003, TCE has been found in at least 852 of the 1,430 National Priorities List sites identified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). [1251]

TCE is regulated in drinking water in the US at a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 0.005 mg/L. USEPA has identified granular activated carbon and packed tower aeration as the two Best Available Technologies (BATs) for removal of TCE from drinking water. [1250]

It is regulated based on its potential for adverse effects on the liver and for risk of inducing cancer.

Date of Literature Search: June 2009



1250 Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, United States; 2009; Title 40, Part 141, Subpart G, Section 141.61 Maximum contaminant levels for organic contaminants; http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=a05e26cfb3d8ea7be7ac637c411c4c39&rgn=div8&view=text&node=40:22.0.1.1.3.7.16.2&idno=40; As posted on 09/14/2009. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, United States.
1251 US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; 2003; Trichloroethylene CAS # 79-01-6 Division of Toxicology ToxFAQs; Trichloroethylene CAS # 79-01-6 Division of Toxicology ToxFAQs; 2 pages, US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA
1252 US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; 1997; Toxicological Profile for Trichloroethylene; Toxicological Profile for Trichloroethylene; 335 pages, US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Altanta, GA
1622 Love, T. and Eilers, R.; 1982; Treatment of drinking water containing trichloroethylene and related industrial solvents; J. AWWA; 74:8:413
1629 World Health Organization; 2005; Trichloroethene in drinking-water - Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality; Trichloroethene in drinking-water - Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality; WHO/SDE/WSH/05.08/22



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