The chemical compoundtrichloroethyleneis a halocarbon commonly used as an industrial solvent. It is a clear non-flammable liquid with a sweet smell. It should not be confused with the similar 1,1,1-trichloroethane, which is commonly known as chlorothene. The IUPAC name is trichloroethene. Industrial abbreviations include TCE, trichlor, Trike, Tricky and tri. It has been sold under a variety of trade names. Under the trade names Trimar and Trilene, trichloroethylene was used as a volatile anesthetic and as an inhaled obstetrical analgesic in millions of patients.
Trichloroethylene is an effective solvent for a variety of organic materials. When it was first widely produced in the 1920s, trichloroethylene's major use was to extract vegetable oils from plant materials such as soy, coconut, and palm. Other uses in the food industry included coffee decaffeination and the preparation of flavoring extracts from hops and spices. It has also been used for removing residual water in the production of 100% ethanol. Read morehere.
Liquid trichloroethylene evaporates quickly into the air. It is nonflammable and has a sweet odor. The two major uses of trichloroethylene are as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts and as a chemical that is used to make other chemicals, especially the refrigerant, HFC-134a. Read more here.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA, 1977) banned these uses of trichloroethylene because of its toxicity; its use in cosmetic and drug products was also discontinued (Mertens, 1993). Read more here.
Scientists have known for decades that TCE is dangerous. At high doses, the chemical – a sweet-smelling liquid used in degreasers, lubricants, and stain removers—has been linked to a range of devastating health outcomes, including liver, kidney, and testicular cancer; leukemia and lymphoma; and immune diseases like lupus.
Industry easily explains away these links. The Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance (HSIA), a trade association that represents makers and users of TCE, praises the chemical’s “long history of safe use” and calls its links to cancer “erroneous.” Meanwhile, Westlake Chemical Corp., a TCE manufacturer in the US, stresses that “chronic overexposure” is to blame for these diseases, not run-of-the-mill, low-dose exposure (the sort of low doses found, for example, in 14 million Americans’ drinking water). Read more here.