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Tetrachloroethylene Toxicity
What Instructions Should Be Given to Patients?

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 instructions for patient self care and
  • describe instructions for patient clinical follow-up.


All patients exposed to tetrachloroethylene 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 tetrachloroethylene 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 your employer for 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's Hazard Communication Standard. It's the law!

At Home

  • Search for safer alternatives to products with tetrachloroethylene.
  • When using products containing tetrachloroethylene, open all windows and use fans in your workspace.
  • Wear a respirator or protective gloves, or both, when using products that contain tetrachloroethylene.

Clinical Follow-Up

Tetrachloroethylene has been implicated as a probable cause of cancer. Periodic physical exams may help detect abnormalities at an early stage, if they occur.

Patients should be advised to consult their physician if they develop signs or symptoms of

  • central nervous system disorders or
  • other health changes (especially those possibly related to heart, liver, and kidney problems).

ATSDR's patient education sheet on tetrachloroethylene 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 tetrachloroethylene 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

18. Patients who have been exposed to tetrachloroethylene 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 Self Care and Clinical Follow-Up in this section.

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