Trichloroethane-1,1,1 (TCE)

The substance
1,1,1-trichloroethane is a colourless man-made chemical that has a sweet, yet sharp odour. It occurs as a liquid at room temperature. It is highly volatile and so readily enters the atmosphere. It is non-flammable.

1,1,1-trichloroethane is made by industry. Its former use was as a solvent to dissolve other substances, for example, glue and paint, and, in industry, as a cleansing agent to remove oil and grease from manufactured metal parts. In the home it was sometimes used in products such as spot cleaners, glues and aerosol sprays. The manufacture and use of 1,1,1-trichloroethane is now prohibited except the use as feedstock for other chemicals. The main current use is as feedstock for the production of HCFCs, other CFC substitutes and fluoropolymer resins.

Major emissions
Due to its highly volatile nature, a high proportion of 1,1,1-trichloroethane that is released soon enters the atmosphere. Leachate from contaminated waste disposal sites may also contain 1,1,1-trichloroethane. There are believed to be no natural sources of 1,1,1-trichloroethane.

Impacts on human health and environment
Excessive exposure to 1,1,1-trichloroethane may affect the brain, eye, heart, lung, liver and skin. 1,1,1-Trichloroethane evaporates rapidly from water and soil. It does not bind to soils nor is it broken down by microbial action, so it may leach to groundwater. It has little tendency to accumulate in aquatic life. Acutely toxic levels of 1,1,1-trichloroethane to aquatic and terrestrial organisms are not expected to be reached under environmental conditions. However, there is the possibility of toxic effects arising in the event of accidental spills. As a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) it has been determined to have negligible photochemical reactivity and is unlikely to contribute significantly to the formation of harmful ground-level ozone or photochemical smog. Its participation in stratospheric chemistry implicates the compound in the processes leading to the destruction of the earth's protective ozone layer, which shields life on earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Consequently, 1,1,1-trichloroethane is an ozone depleting substance controlled under the Montreal Protocol, prohibiting its manufacture for uses other than as chemical feedstock.

Emission to air reporting threshold: 100 kg/year

Data source: European Pollutant Emission Register