Last updated Oct. 26, 2017

What is TCE?

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a volatile organic compound--a compound that easily becomes vapor or gas--that is used in manufacturing to remove grease from metal parts. It has also been used in consumer products such as adhesives, paint removers and spot removers. Since TCE is used in many products, it is not unusual for very low concentrations to be found in indoor air. TCE is one of the most common contaminants found at groundwater contamination sites around the country.

Health Concerns:

In general, exposure to a chemical does not necessarily mean that health effects will occur. The effect of exposure to any chemical depends on several things including:

  • The concentration and toxicity of the chemical
  • The length of the exposure
  • Other personal factors (such individual health and sensitivity)

Short term exposure concern:  If exposure occurs during fetal heart development in the first trimester of pregnancy there is, according to one recent but limited study, the potential for cardiac malformations to occur in developing fetuses.

Long term exposure concern:  Potential effects to the immune system and potential increased risk for certain cancers (liver, kidney, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma).

To learn more about TCE, go to ATSDR's fact sheet.


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