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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: 2020 [IMIS History: Tetrachloroethylene prior to 9/1/89; Perchloroethylene from 9/1/98 through 6/23/04; currently Tetrachoroethylene]

CAS number(s): 127-18-4

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA 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 with dizziness and muscular incoordination
HE16 -- eye and skin irritation upon contact
HE3 -- liver and kidney damage
NIOSH REL 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
ACGIH TLV® (1990) 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
100 ppm (685 mg/m3) STEL
300 ppm Ceiling
HE3 -- liver injury
HE7 -- central nervous system depression with headache, dizziness, sleepiness, incoordination
HE16 -- eye irritation

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 4x10-2 mg/m3

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): 0.2 ppm (acute); 0.04 ppm (chronic)

NIOSH 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).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Tetrochloroethylene. 2016.
  • ANSI: USA Standard Acceptable Concentrations of Tetrachloroethylene. 1967.
  • EPA IRIS Tetrachloroethylene, 2012
  • IARC, Lancet Oncology, 13:1192-1193, 2011
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended StandardOccupational Exposure to Tetrachloroethylene. 1976.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Tetrachloroethylene. 1978.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsTetrachloroethylene. 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.

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