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Environment

Trichloroethylene Is Carcinogenic, EPA Says

by Cheryl Hogue
October 3, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 40

The widely used solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) is carcinogenic to humans, EPA concludes in a scientific assessment finalized on Sept. 28. The findings in the document, which the agency labored on for more than a decade, will influence regulatory decisions on TCE pollution in air and water as well as cleanups at hazardous waste sites. The chemical is a contaminant at nearly half of the Superfund sites in the country and at more than 1,000 military installations. Paul Anastas, head of EPA’s Office of Research & Development, says the TCE document is one of the most complex and important scientific assessments the agency will complete this year. Two days before EPA released the TCE document, Sens. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) and David Vitter (R-La.) in a letter urged Anastas not to proceed with any “controversial” assessments of chemicals because EPA’s process for conducting these assessments has been the target of criticism (C&EN, Aug. 1, page 31). “Scientifically, I do not view this as controversial,” Anastas says of the TCE document. The agency’s Science Advisory Board peer reviewed the assessment and in December 2010 advised the agency to finalize the document expeditiously.

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