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Tetrachloroethylene

General Description

  • Synonyms: Perchloroethylene; Tetrachloroethene; Carbon bichloride; 1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethylene; 1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethene
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 2020

    (IMIS Name History: Tetrachloroethylene prior to 9/1/89; Perchloroethylene from 9/1/98 through 6/23/04; currently Tetrachoroethylene).

  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 127-18-4
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: KX3850000
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Emergency Response Guidebook: 1897 160
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Tetrachloroethylene: Physical description, chemical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Hazard Summary - Tetrachloroethylene: Uses, sources and potential exposure, acute and chronic health hazard information, and more

Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit

Limit Values

HE Codes

Health Factors and Target Organs

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-2  

100 ppm
TWA

200 ppm
Ceiling

300 ppm (peak) for a single time period up to 5 minutes for any 3 hours

HE7

Central nervous system depression with dizziness and muscular incoordination

HE16

Eye and skin irritation upon contact

HE3

Liver and kidney damage

OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A

100 ppm
(670 mg/m3) TWA

HE7

Central nervous system depression with dizziness and muscular incoordination

HE16

Eye and skin irritation upon contact

HE3

Liver and kidney damage

OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards

100 ppm
(670 mg/m3) TWA

HE7

Central nervous system depression causing dizziness and muscular incoordination

HE16

Eye and skin irritation upon contact

HE3

Liver and kidney damage

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)
See Appendix A

Not established (lowest feasible concentration)

Ca

HE7

Central nervous system depression with weakness, confusion, headache, dizziness, and drowsiness

HE16

Eye, nose, and throat irritation; flushing of face and neck

HE3

Liver damage shown by jaundice several weeks later

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2001)

25 ppm
(170 mg/m3) TWA

100 ppm
(685 mg/m3) STEL

A3; BEI

HE3

Liver injury

HE7

Central nervous system depression with headache, dizziness, sleepiness, incoordination

HE16

Eye irritation

CAL/OSHA PELs

25 ppm
(170 mg/m3) TWA

300 ppm
Ceiling

100 ppm
(685 mg/m3)

HE3

Liver injury

HE7

Central nervous system depression with headache, dizziness, sleepiness, incoordination

HE16

Eye irritation

  • National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen (PDF)
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: Group 2A (PDF) (probably carcinogenic to humans)
  • EPA carcinogenic classification: Likely to be carcinogenic to humans
  • EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 4x10-2 mg/m3
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): 0.2 ppm (acute); 0.04 ppm (chronic)
  • NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: 150 ppm
  • Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards
    1. Dry-cleaning workers are occupationally exposed to tetrachloroethylene and are found to experience excess cancer mortality in some studies (Ruder et al. 2001).
    2. Increased relative risk for bladder cancer was found in dry-cleaning workers in Nordic countries (Lynge et al. 2006).
    3. Exposure can be determined by measuring perchloroethylene in expired air, blood, or urine, or the major metabolite in urine - trichloroacetic acid. (Gobba et al. 2003).
    4. Color-vison impairment may occur from a small exposure to tetrachloroethylene (Gobba et al. 1998).
    5. Strong evidence exists that metabolism of tetrachloroethylene may produce carcinogenic metabolites toxic to the liver and kidneys (Gobba et al. 2003; Lash and Parker 2001).
    6. IARC stated that epidemiological studies noted positive associations between tetrachloroethylene exposure and several cancers, including bladder, oesophagus, kidney, cervix, and NHL; however, there was a consistent pattern across studies only for bladder cancer. Findings from cancer bioassays in mice and toxicity studies in animals have identified several potential genotoxic and non-genotoxic mechanisms of carcinogenesis for tetrachloroethylene in the liver that could operate in people. In rats, tetrachloroethylene induces neoplasms of the haemopoietic system, testes, kidney, and brain. (IARC 2012)
  • Literature Basis:
    • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Tetrochloroethylene. 2001.
    • ANSI: USA Standard Acceptable Concentrations of Tetrachloroethylene. 1967.
    • EPA IRIS Tetrachloroethylene, 2012
    • IARC, Lancet Oncology, 13:1192-1193, 2011
    • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard - Occupational Exposure to Tetrachloroethylene. 1976.
    • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Tetrachloroethylene. 1978.
    • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Tetrachloroethylene. April 13, 2000.
    • Gobba, F., Righi, E., Fantuzzi, G., Roccatto, L., Predieri, G., and Aggazzotti, G.: Perchloroethylene in alveolar air, blood, and urine as biologic indices of low-level exposure. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 45(11): 1152-1157, 2003.
    • Gobba, F., Righi, E., Fantuzzi, G., Predieri, G., Cavazzuti, L. and Aggazzotti, G.: Two-year evolution of perchloroethylene-induced color-vision loss. Arch. Environ. Health 53(3): 196-198, 1998.
    • Lash, L.H. and Parker, J.C.: Hepatic and renal toxicities associated with perchlorethylene. Pharmacol. Rev. 53(2): 177-208, 2001.
    • Lynge E. et al.: Cancer in persons working in dry cleaning in the Nordic countries. Environ Health Perspect. 114(2):213-9, February 2006.
    • Ruder, A.M., Ward, E.M. and Brown, D.P.: Mortality in dry-cleaning workers: an update. Am. J. Ind. Med. 39(2): 121-132, 2001.
  • Date Last Revised: 12/11/2012

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • Charcoal Tube (100/50 mg sections, 20/40 mesh)
  • maximum volume: 12 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (TWA)
  • maximum time: >5 Minutes
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (Ceiling)
  • maximum time: >1 Minute
  • maximum flow rate: 0.05 L/min (Peak)
  • current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: Carbon Disulfide
  • alternative solvent: 99:1 Carbon Disulfide:Dimethylformamide
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 1001)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • Diffusive Sampler (SKC 575-002 Passive Sampler)
  • minimum time: ≤ 240 Minutes (TWA)
  • minimum time: > 5 Minutes (Ceiling)
  • minimum time: ≥ 5 Minutes (Peak)
  • current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/FID
  • analytical solvent: Carbon Disulfide
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 1001)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: AUER/MSA
  • model/type: Per-10, MSA P/N 487337, AUER P/N 5085-840
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 500 ppm
  • detection limit:approximately 10 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: AUER/MSA
  • model/type: Per-5, MSA P/N 804429, AUER P/N 5085-865
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 200 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Tetrachloroethylene 0.1/a, order no. 81 01551
  • sampling information: 3/9 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 4/1 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.5/0.2 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: approximately 33%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Tetrachloroethylene 2/a, order no. 81 01501
  • sampling information: 1/5 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 300/40 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 20/2 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: approximately 25%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Tetrachloroethylene 10/b, order no. CH 30701
  • sampling information: 3 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 500 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: approximately 25%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 133HA
  • sampling information: 4 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 50 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.05 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 0.2 to 10 ppm, 8% for 10 to 50 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 172
  • sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 900 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 20 to 100 ppm, 8% for 100 to 300 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 133M
  • sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 250 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.4 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 5 to 20 ppm, 8% for 20 to 100 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 133L
  • sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 75 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.4 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 2 to 5 ppm, 8% for 5 to 25 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 133LL
  • sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 9 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.05 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 0.2 to 1 ppm, 8% for 1 to 3 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 133D
  • sampling information: 1 to 8 hours
  • upper measurement limit: 150 ppm
  • detection limit: 3 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 25% for 25 to 50 ppm-h, 16% for 50 to 150 ppm-h
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-135SA
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 300 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-243U
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 160 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-135SB
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 10 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 1 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-135SH
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 2%
  • detection limit: approximately 0.05%
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

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