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Trichloroethylene Called A Known Carcinogen

by Britt E. Erickson
July 14, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 28

Trichloroethylene (TCE), a solvent primarily used as a degreaser for metals, should be reclassified as a known human carcinogen, a draft report from the National Toxicology Program says. This conclusion is based on human epidemiology and toxicology studies that show TCE causes kidney cancer in humans. The draft finds limited evidence that the chemical causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans and substantial evidence that it causes several types of cancer in laboratory animals. TCE was listed in 2000 in the federal Report on Carcinogens as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen. Since then, several studies have linked the chemical to cancer in humans, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer and EPA concluded that TCE is a human carcinogen. The National Toxicology Program evaluated the chemical for possible reclassification in the Report on Carcinogens because of evidence that a significant number of U.S. residents are being exposed to it. TCE was formerly used as a solvent in numerous industries but is now mostly used as a degreaser, an intermediate for hydrofluorocarbon production, and as a modifier in the polymerization of polyvinyl chloride. Last month EPA determined TCE poses a risk to workers and consumers.


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