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Trichloroethylene Toxicity
What Instructions Should Be Given to Patients?

Course: WB1112
CE Original Date: November 8, 2007
CE Renewal Date: November 8, 2010
CE Expiration Date: November 8, 2012
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Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this section, you should be able to

  • describe advice on self care and follow-up care normally provided to patients who are exposed to TCE.


All patients exposed to TCE need some basic guidance on

  • self care, so they can minimize further risks and avoid complications to the extent possible and
  • clinical follow up, so they understand when and why to return for further medical attention.

ATSDR has developed a patient education sheet on TCE that you might find useful.

Self Care

Patients should be advised to avoid exposures and conditions that might further increase their risk of disease or worsen their existing condition.

At work

  • Be sure to use personal protective equipment (PPE) - gloves, goggles, masks.
  • Ask employer for the MSDS on products that you use.
  • Be sure all containers are labeled for any chemical you use at work.
  • Ask your employer for training on how to use chemicals at work.
  • Your employer is required to provide labeling, MSDS and training as part of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. It's the law!

At home

  • Search for safer alternatives to products with TCE.
  • When using consumer products containing TCE, open all windows and use fans in your workspace.
  • Use respirators or gloves.
  • Use cold water to wash dishes, clothes, etc.
  • Ventilate the bathroom when showering.

Clinical Follow Up

Since TCE has been implicated as a likely cause of cancer, periodic physical exams may be of value in detecting abnormalities at an early stage if they occur.

Patients should be advised to consult their physician if they develop

  • any signs or symptoms of central nervous system problems
  • signs or symptoms of other health changes (especially those possibly related to heart, liver, and kidney problems)

ATSDR's patient education sheet on TCE includes a more detailed checklist that you can use to indicate which types of follow up are relevant for a given patient.

Key Points

  • Patients should be advised to avoid exposures and conditions that might further increase their risk of disease or worsen their existing condition.
  • Patients should contact their physician if they develop neurological problems or other health changes.

Progress Check

19. Patients who have been exposed to TCE should

A. speak to their employer about PPE (if exposures are occupational)
B. learn how to avoid further exposure
C. know when to call their doctor
D. All of the above.


To review relevant content, see all content in this section.

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Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

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