Chemicals in the Environment                          1-pnr.rtc/^enj.htm

                            What is perchloroethylene, how is it used, and how might I be exposed?
                            What happens to perchloroethylene in the environment?
                            How does perchloroethylene affect human health and the environment?
                            What EPA program offices regulate perchloroethylene, and under what laws is
                             it regulated?
                            What other federal agencies or groups can I contact for information on

       _                Chemicals can be released to the environment as a result of their manufacture,
      processing, and use. The EPA has developed information summaries on selected chemicals to describe
      how you might be exposed to these chemicals, how exposure to them might affect you and the
      environment, what happens to them in the environment, who regulates them, and whom to contact for
      additional information. EPA is committed to reducing environmental releases of chemicals through
      source reduction and other practices that reduce creation of pollutants.

      What Is Perchloroethylene, How Is It Used, and How Might I Be Exposed?

      Perchloroethylene (also called PERC or tetrachloroethylene) is a colorless, nonflammable liquid. It does
      not occur naturally but is produced in large amounts (310 million pounds in 1991 ) by three companies
      in the United States. US demand for PERC declined about 35% from 1989 to 1991, and is likely to
      continue to fall. Solvent recycling and reduced demand for chlorofluorocarbons are major reasons for
      this trend. The largest US user of PERC is the dry cleaning industry. It accounts for 80% to 85% of all
      dry cleaning fluid used. Textile mills, chlorofluorocarbon producers, vapor degreasing and metal
      cleaning operations, and makers of rubber coatings also use PERC. It can be added to aerosol
      formulations, solvent soaps, printing inks, adhesives, sealants, polishes, lubricants, and silicones.
      Typewriter correction fluid and shoe polish are among the consumer products that can contain PERC.
      Exposure to perchloroethylene can occur in the workplace or in the environment following releases to
      air, water, land, or groundwater. Exposure can also occur when people:

           use products containing PERC
           spend time in dry cleaning facilities that use PERC,              ^iMBEftC LIBRARY  U.S. EPA
           live above or adjacent to these dry cleaning facilities, or
           bring dry cleaned garments into their home.

      PERC enters the body when breathed in with contaminated air or when consumed with contaminated
      food or water. It is less likely to be absorbed through skin contact. Once in the body PERC can remain,
      stored in fat tissue.

      What Happens to Perchloroethylene in the Environment?

      Perchloroethylene evaporates when exposed to air. It dissolves only slightly when mixed with water.
      Most direct releases of PERC to the environment are to air. It also evaporates from water and soil
      exposed to air. Once in air, PERC breaks down to other chemicals over several weeks. Because it  is  a
      liquid that does not bind well to soil, PERC that makes its way into the ground can move through  the
      ground and enter groundwater. Plants and animals living in environments contaminated with PERC  can
      store small amounts of the chemical.

      How Does Perchloroethylene Affect Human  Health  and the Environment?

      Effects of perchloroethylene on human health and the environment depend on how much PERC is
      present and the length and frequency of exposure. Effects also depend on the health of a person or the
      condition of the environment when exposure occurs.
Iof3                                                                                        11/2/98 9:30 AM

Chemicals in the Environment                        

      Breathing PERC for short periods of time can adversely affect the human nervous system. Effects range
      from dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and sweating to incoordination and unconsciousness. Contact with
      PERC liquid or vapor irritates the skin, the eyes, the nose, and the throat. These effects are not likely to
      occur at levels of PERC that are normally found in the environment.

      Breathing perchloroethylene over longer periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage in humans.
      Workers exposed repeatedly to  large amounts of PERC in air can also experience memory loss and
      confusion. Laboratory studies show that PERC causes kidney and liver damage and cancer in animals
      exposed repeatedly by inhalation and ingestion. Repeat exposure to large amounts of PERC in air may
      likewise cause cancer in humans.

      Perchloroethylene by itself is not likely to cause environmental harm at levels normally found in the
      environment. PERC can contribute to the formation of photochemical smog when it reacts with other
      volatile organic carbon substances in air. These reactions tend to eliminate PERC before it reaches the
      upper atmosphere in amounts sufficient to damage the ozone layer.

      What EPA Program Offices Regulate Perchloroethylene, and Under What Laws Is
      It Regulated?

       EPA OFFICE            LAW                                          PHONE NUMBER
       Pollution Prevention &    Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)              202554-1404
                               Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know 800 535-0202
                               Act (EPCRA): Regulations (S313)
                               Toxics Release Inventory data                      202 260 1531
       Air                     Clean Air Act                                   919541-0888
       Solid Waste & Emergency  Comprehensive Environmental Response,           800 535-0202
       Response                Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund)
                               Resource Conservation and Recovery Act/EPCRA

       Water                   Clean Water Act                                 202 260-7588
                               Safe Drinking Water Act (Drinking Water Standard:   800 426-4791
                               0.005 mg/L)
      A technical support document is available from the TSCA Assistance Information Service, 202

      What Other Federal Agencies or Groups Can I Contact for Information on

       AGENCY/GROUP                                   PHONE NUMBER
       Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry        404 639-6000
       American Conference of Governmental Industrial         513 742-2020
       Consumer Product Safety Commission                  301 504 0994
       Food and Drug Administration                         301 443-3170
       National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences      800 6434794
       (EnviroHealth Clearinghouse)
       National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health      800 356 4674
       Occupational Safety and Health Administration          (Check your local phone book under U.S.
                                                          Department of Labor)
2 of 3                                                                                      11/2/98 9:30 AM

Chemicals in the Environment                              
                                                    Order Publications
                              Garment & Textile Care Program Home II Other DFE Industry Projects
                                  Questions? E-mail Garment & Textile Care Program Helpline
                                                  Comments? E-mail DfE
                                   Experiencing problems with this page? E-mail OPPT Home
                                                  DfE Home II OPPT Home
                                                 EPA Home 11 Search EPA
                                       This page is designed for HTML 3.2 compliant
                                         browsers running under at least 256 colors.
                                            Date Last Updated: August 25, 1997
3 of 3                                                                                                     11/2/98 9:30 AM