U.S. EPA Proposes Banning TCE in Degreasing

Aerosol cleaner is part of 10 TSCA chemicals proposed in the ban after EPA publishes proposal to prohibit its use in degreasing.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun steps to ban the degreaser trichloroethylene (TCE) used by some machining and finishing shops due to perceived health risks.

“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,” says Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

In 2014, EPA identified risks to workers using TCE and has been assessing ways to phase out its use. In January, EPA published a proposal to prohibit the manufacture, import, processing and distribution of TCE for use in aerosol degreasing and for use in spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities. EPA also wants manufacturers, processors and distributors to notify those in their supply chains of the prohibitions.

The proposed ban picked up steam in December when EPA added TCE to a list of the first 10 chemicals to be evaluated for risk under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

Degreasing occurs when solvents like TCE are heated in a degreasing unit to produce a hot vapor. When parts are placed into the degreaser, vapor condenses on the parts to cause beading and dripping, carrying away contaminants and leaving a clean surface.

EPA says that alternatives to TCE with similar performance characteristics are available, such as using solvents, switching to aqueous cleaners, adopting other cleaning techniques or substituting equipment. EPA is currently requesting additional comments, information and data to assist in its evaluation of TCE alternatives in vapor degreasing applications.

EPA's Toni Krasnic of the Existing Chemicals Branch, Chemical Control Division of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, will speak on the elimination of TCE at the Parts Cleaning Expo on April 26. His talk will be “Overview of EPA’s Activities on Solvents under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).”

 

For more information from the EPA on TCE, click here. 

 

 

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