The federal government is moving to ban a chemical used in dry cleaning and in industrial operations as a degreaser that is linked to certain types of cancer.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to ban the use of perchloroethylene, also known as PCE, in all consumer goods and in many commercial uses.
“We know that exposure to PCE is dangerous for people’s health, and today’s rule is an important first step to keeping communities and workers safe,” said Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We’ve proposed to ban the uses we know can’t continue safely, and we’ve made sure that stringent controls are in place to protect workers for the uses that remain.”
PCE is used in consumer goods, like brake cleaners and adhesives, and in commercial applications, like dry cleaning and fabric manufacturing.
The chemical has been linked to bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other types of cancers, as well as end-stage renal disease, birth defects, miscarriage and other health risks.
The proposal would phase down manufacturing, processing and distribution of PCE for all consumer uses in 24 months.
PCE use in dry cleaning would be phased out in 10 years, and the EPA is proposing a stricter inhalation exposure limit and requirements to prevent skin exposure for workers in industrial uses.
The chemical will still be allowed to be produced to manufacture fire suppression agents like HFC-125 and refrigerants like HFC-134a. PCE will also be allowed for use in industrial and commercial products for petrochemical manufacturing, aircraft skin productions and vapor degreasing.
The EPA will soon accept public comments on the proposed rule here.