EDF applauds EPA’s proposal to ban commercial and consumer uses of TCE

Toxic chemical known to cause serious health risks

October 23, 2023
Cecile Brown, (202) 271-6534, cebrown@edf.org

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will ban commercial and consumer uses of trichloroethylene (TCE), a highly toxic chemical used in a variety of commercial and consumer degreasing, cleaning, and lubricating applications.

TCE is highly toxic at low levels of exposure and is known to cause cancer in humans. The chemical also poses potential human health hazards for the central nervous system, kidney, liver, male reproductive system, and at very low levels to the immune system and to fetal development. Workers, pregnant people, and members of fenceline communities are at particular risk for harm.

Maria Doa, Senior Director for Chemicals Policy, lauded EPA staff and affected families who have worked for so long to ban the chemical: “TCE is so toxic and causes multiple harms at very low levels of exposure. This is a major step forward for those in the agency, advocacy groups—including EDF—and families and communities around the nation that have fought to prohibit the use of a chemical that has harmed or cut short the lives of so many people. TCE is a chemical that simply should not be used.”

The proposal would ban most uses within one year. The remaining uses—including by NASA and the Department of Defense and in electric vehicle batteries—would be phased out within 10 years. During this phase-out period, EPA would require employers to institute workplace safety programs.

In the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at the proposed rule and offer suggestions to strengthen the final version to better protect public health during the phase-out, including for workers, pregnant people, and fenceline communities, and more quickly phase-out the uses not immediately banned.

# # #

One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund