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EPA Proposes Comprehensive Ban on Trichloroethylene

The agency aims to protect the public from the serious risks posed by the toxic chemical.

October 26, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposal to ban the use of trichloroethylene (TCE), citing its association with cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity.

TCE is used in cleaning and furniture-care products as well as degreasers, although a variety of safer alternatives are available for many of the uses.

The proposed ban, rooted in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), seeks to halt the manufacturing, processing, and distribution of TCE across all applications. This rule is slated to take effect within a year for consumer and most commercial products.

The move aligns with President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to reduce toxic exposure and related cancer risks. It also reflects the administration’s focus on environmental justice, addressing the cumulative impacts of pollution in vulnerable communities.

“The science is loud and clear on TCE. It is a dangerous toxic chemical and proposing to ban it will protect families, workers, and communities,” stated Janet McCabe, EPA deputy administrator.

According to the EPA, the proposal is a direct response to decades of TCE’s adverse effects on communities. “Today’s proposal to end these unsafe, unrestricted uses of TCE will prevent future contamination to land and drinking water and deliver the chemical safety protections this nation deserves,” added Michal Freedhoff, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention assistant administrator.

Transition periods and stringent worker protections are proposed for certain essential uses of TCE, such as in battery separators for electric vehicles and specific refrigerants. Additionally, the EPA plans to permit lab use and proper disposal of TCE wastewater for 50 years, subject to workplace safety measures, to aid in cleaning previously contaminated sites.

Learn more about the rule on the EPA’s website.

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