Regulations and Guidelines
CHAPTER 3. DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT, AND PREVENTION - Section 3.3
CE Original Date: 08/05/2022
CE Expiration Date: 08/05/2024
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After completing this section, you will be able to identify existing regulations and guidelines for TCE in the environment and in the workplace.
The federal government has developed regulations and guidelines for TCE to protect the public and workers from potential adverse health effects from exposure.
Levels of environmental exposure to TCE are generally low and are decreasing because limitations have been imposed on its use as an anesthetic, solvent extractant, fumigant, and dry cleaning agent. TCE has a short atmospheric half-life (less than 7 days) and it is not likely to bioaccumulate in the food chain.
Air: EPA has identified TCE as one of 33 hazardous air pollutants that present the greatest threat to public health in urban areas (NTP, 2016).
Water: The World Health Organization recommended drinking water limit is 30 mg TCE/liter (L) of water (30 ppb) (WHO, 2005). EPA has set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 5 mg/L (5 ppb) in drinking water (EPA, 2020).
Food: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set maximum permissible level of 5 mg/L of TCE in bottled water. TCE may be used as a solvent in the manufacture of specified foods, with maximum residue levels ranging from 10 ppm to 30 ppm (NTP, 2016).
The EPA Toxic Substances Control Act stipulates that manufacturers (including importers) or processors of TCE for use in a consumer product (except for use in cleaners and solvent degreasers, film cleaners, hoof polishes, lubricants, mirror edge sealants, and pepper spray) are required to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing. That allows EPA to evaluate the intended use and to regulate prospective manufacturers or processors of TCE before the use occurs, provided that regulation is warranted under the act (NTP, 2016).
The OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) is an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 100 ppm, with 200 ppm, 300 ppm(peak) TCE for a single time period up to 5 min in any 2 hours. (OSHA, 1993, 2020).
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 25 ppm as a 10-hour TWA for workers. The immediate dangerous to life and health limit is 1,000 ppm (NIOSH, 2020).
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists recommends 10 ppm as a threshold limit value–time-weighted average (TLV-TWA) and 25 ppm as a TLV–short-term exposure limit (TLV-STEL) (NTP, 2016).
|American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists||Air: workplace||10 ppm*
|National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health||Air: workplace||25 ppm||Recommendation; 10-hour TWA§; potential carcinogen|
|Occupational Safety and Health Administration||Air: workplace||100 ppm
200 ppm, 300 ppm(peak)
|Regulation; PEL¶ over 8-hour workday
Regulation; for a single time period up to 5 min in any 2 hours.
|Environmental Protection Agency||Air: environment||Not available||Not available|
|Drinking water||5 ppb**||Regulation|
|Food and Drug Administration||Food: bottled water||5 mg /L||Regulation, maximum permissible level|
* ppm = parts per million.
† TLV-TWA = threshold limit value–time-weighted average; a time-weighted average concentration for a normal 8-hour workday or 40-hour work week to which nearly all workers might be repeatedly exposed.
‡ TLV-STEL = threshold limit value–short-term exposure limit); a 15-minute TWA exposure that should not be exceeded at any time during a workday.
§ TWA = time-weighted average; a concentration for a normal 8-hour workday and 40-hour work week set at a level at which nearly all workers may be repeatedly exposed without adverse effects.
¶ PEL = permissible exposure limit; the highest level averaged over an 8-hour workday to which a worker may be exposed. Note: A PEL of 50 ppm was enacted by Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1989, but that level, along with 375 others, was vacated for procedural reasons by the 11th Circuit Federal Court in 1993.
** ppb = parts per billion.
- Environmental exposures to TCE are generally low and are decreasing because limitations have been imposed on its use as an anesthetic, solvent extractant, fumigant, and dry-cleaning agent.
- EPA and several other federal agencies have strict regulations on exposure limits of TCE in the environment and in the workplace.