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Tetrachloroethylene Toxicity
Where is Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) Found?

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

  • identify sources of tetrachloroethylene exposure.

Introduction

People can be exposed to tetrachloroethylene from environmental and occupational sources and from consumer products. It is released to air and water by evaporation or emissions from industrial and dry-cleaning plants, and from landfills, where it may be stored.

Environmental Exposures

Air

Approximately 85% of the tetrachloroethylene that is used annually is lost to the atmosphere. Concentrations in air have been reported to range from 30 part per trillion (ppt) in rural areas to as high as 4.5 part per billion (ppb) in urban or industrial areas (National Toxicology Program 2001).

Water

Tetrachloroethylene is frequently found in water. For example, it was found in 38% of 9,232 surface water sampling sites throughout the U.S. (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 1997).

Occupational Exposures

People who work with tetrachloroethylene have the greatest chance of exposure to it. Common environmental levels (called background levels) of tetrachloroethylene are several thousand times lower than levels found in some workplaces (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 1997).

Exposures from Consumer Products

Tetrachloroethylene is found as an ingredient in a number of consumer products such as fabric finishers and spot removers.

Key Points

  • People can be exposed to tetrachloroethylene from environmental and occupational sources and from consumer products.
   

Progress Check

2. The most significant exposure pathway of tetrachloroethylene is

A. environmental
B. occupational
C. hobbies related
D. None of the above.

Answer:

To review relevant content, see Occupational Exposures in this section.

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