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Tetrachloroethylene Toxicity
What is Tetrachloroethyne?

Course: WB 1110
CE Original Date: May 23, 2008
CE Renewal Date: May 23, 2011
CE Expiration Date: May 23, 2013
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Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this section, you will be able to

  • describe the properties of tetrachloroethylene.


Tetrachloroethylene is a synthetic chemical. It is a clear, colorless, nonflammable liquid with a sweet, fruity odor like that of chloroform. It is volatile and readily evaporates at room temperature.


As of 1995 the estimated end-use pattern for tetrachloroethylene was (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 1997.)

  • chemical intermediates - 55%,
  • metal cleaning and vapor degreasing - 25%,
  • dry cleaning and textile processing - 15%, and
  • other unspecified uses - 5%.

Tetrachloroethylene has also been used as (U.S. EPA 2005)

  • an intermediate in the synthesis of fluorocarbons,
  • an insulating/cooling fluid in electric transformers,
  • a component in typewriter correction fluids,
  • a veterinary medication against worms, and
  • a grain protectant and fumigant.


Chemical synonyms for tetrachloroethylene include

  • tetrachloroethene,
  • perchloroethylene,
  • 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethylene, and
  • ethylene tetrachloride.

Other commonly used names are

  • PCE,
  • Perc,
  • perchlor, and
  • Perclene.

Key Points

  • Tetrachloroethylene is a synthetic chemical that is widely used for dry cleaning of fabrics and for metal-degreasing operations.
  • Tetrachloroethylene is also used as a starting material for making other chemicals and is used in some consumer products.

Progress Check

1. Tetrachloroethylene is

A. a clear liquid having low vapor pressures at room temperature
B. volatile and readily evaporates at room temperature
C. used mainly as a solvent and cleaner in consumer formulations
D. All of the above.


To review relevant content, see Definition in this section.

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