EPA Releases Final Health Assessment for Tetrachloroethylene (aka Perc)

EPA has posted its final health assessment for tetrachloroethylene (aka perc) to its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).

Perc is widely used in the dry cleaning industry, although states such as California are requiring that it be phased out. See http://epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/perchloroethylene_fact_sheet.html and California Air Resources Board Dry Cleaning Program. Because of design and operational failures in dry cleaning machines and businesses in the past, perc is unfortunately a common pollutant found in groundwater. It was also a commonly used degreaser in the 1950's and 1960's, and such operations combined with sloppy disposal practices also added to groundwater contamination.

EPA states that it does not believe that wearing clothes dry cleaned with perc will result in exposures which pose a risk of concern. EPA has already taken several significant actions to reduce exposure to perc, including but not limited to setting clean air standards for dry cleaners that use perc (which includes a phase-out of the use of perc by dry cleaners in residential buildings by December 21, 2020). EPA also set limits for the amount of perc allowed in drinking water and levels for cleaning up perc at Superfund sites throughout the country, which will be updated in light of the IRIS assessments. For the California MCL, see www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/gama/docs/coc_pce.pdf.

The toxicity values reported in the perc IRIS assessment will be considered in:

   Establishing cleanup levels at the hundreds of Superfund sites where perc is a contaminant.

   Revising EPA's Maximum Contaminant Level for perc as part of the carcinogenic volatile organic compounds group in drinking water, as described in the agency's drinking water strategy.

   Evaluating whether to propose additional limits on the emissions of perc into the atmosphere, since perc is considered a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

The IRIS data can be found at http://www.epa.gov/iris/subst/0106.htm.

Other details on perc can be found by searching at http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/.

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