Section 3.3. Regulations and Guidelines
After completing this section, you will be able to
- identify existing standards and guidelines for tetrachloroethylene in the environment and
- identify existing standards and guidelines for tetrachloroethylene in the workplace.
The federal government has developed regulations and guidelines for tetrachloroethylene to protect the public and workers from potential adverse health effects from exposure. Federal regulations that eliminate the use of tetrachloroethylene in dry cleaning in urban locations will go into effect in December 2020 [CMR 2008].
EPA has designated tetrachloroethylene as a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act [EPA 2013b].
The current EPA drinking water regulation for tetrachloroethylene is 5 ppb ( = 5 µg/L) [EPA 2013a].
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [FDA 2017] monitors bottled water and has established an acceptable level of 5 µg/L for bottled water.
|American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)||Air: workplace||25 ppm||Advisory; TLV/TWA† STEL‡ of 100 ppm|
|National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)||Air: workplace||Not available Advisory; lowest feasible level because of carcinogenicity|
|Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)||Air: workplace||100 ppm||Regulation; PEL§ over an 8-hour workday|
|U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)||Air: environment||None||Listed as a hazardous air pollutant under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act|
|U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)||Water: environment||5 ppb||Regulation; maximum level allowed in drinking water|
|U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)||Food: bottled drinking water||5 µg/L||Regulation|
*ppm: parts per million; ppb: parts per billion.
†TLV/TWA (threshold limit value/time-weighted average): time-weighted average concentration of exposure for nearly all work during a normal 8-hour workday or 40-hour workweek.
‡STEL (short-term exposure limit): usually a 15-minute sampling period.
§PEL (permissible exposure limit): highest level of exposure, averaged over a normal workday.
EPA regulates three types of tetrachloroethylene dry cleaners under the Clean Air Act
- Large industrial and commercial dry cleaners
- Freestanding small dry cleaners
- Small dry cleaners in apartment buildings
EPA has required operators to reduce emissions from dry cleaners and has established a final rule on the phase out of tetrachloroethylene use in dry cleaners in residential areas by December 21, 2020. Currently, approximately 28,000 U.S. dry cleaners use tetrachloroethylene [ATSDR 2015].
OSHA has established a permissible exposure limit (PEL) in workplace air of 100 ppm measured as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) [OSHA 2013] (Table 1).
NIOSH recommends treating tetrachloroethylene in the workplace as a potential human carcinogen and reducing occupational exposure to the lowest feasible level [NIOSH 2013].
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists [ACGIH 2016] recommends a threshold limit value (TLV) of 25 ppm for an 8-hour TWA and a short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 100 ppm.
- EPA has designated tetrachloroethylene as a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
- The current EPA and FDA tap and bottled water regulation for tetrachloroethylene is 5 μg/L. Federal regulations have gradually reduced the use of tetrachloroethylene and will eliminate the use of tetrachloroethylene in dry cleaning in urban locations in December 2020.
- NIOSH recommends treating tetrachloroethylene in the workplace as a potential human carcinogen and reducing occupational exposure to the lowest feasible level.