aka “TCE,” “Tricky,” “Trichlor,” and “Tri”
Don’t be fooled by Trichloroethylene’s (TCE) sweet odor and taste — she's a heavy-duty industrial solvent who can cut through grease, wax, gunk, and even silicones. TCE arrived on the scene as an anesthetic, briefly popular amongst OB/GYNs for use during childbirth, but lost her medical pedigree in the 1970s when it was discovered inhaling TCE was toxic. After strenuous degreasing sessions, TCE likes to settle down in lake and river sediment, contaminating the drinking water.
1. There’s no sure-fire way to completely avoid TCE until Congress passes the Safe Chemicals Act, legislation that will help us avoid confronting toxic chemicals in our carpets, drinking water and bodies.
2. Check labels on spot removers and paint thinners and avoid household products that contain TCE.
3. Use products labeled “low VOC” and work in ventilated areas.
4. Avoid drinking water contaminated with TCE.
Industrial solvents, paint removers, correction fluid, rug cleaners, spot removers, and drinking water.
The EPA has concluded that TCE is "highly likely to produce cancer in humans." Drinking water contaminated with TCE may cause liver and kidney damage, damage the nervous system, and could lead to birth defects. Breathing even small amounts of TCE can irritate the eyes and throat; it also causes skin irritation.
TCE had a brief stint in the coffee business – turns out she was great at extracting caffeine from coffee beans. But TCE lost her barista position after scientists uncovered her true identity as a carcinogen.