SPECTRUM

Chemical Fact Sheet

Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #) 127184
CASRN 127-18-4
SynonymsTetrachloroethene
Tetrachloroethylene
Perchloroethylene
Ethene, tetrachloro-
Analytical Methods EPA Method 502.2
EPA Method 503.1
EPA Method 524.2
EPA Method 601
EPA Method 624
EPA Method 8010
EPA Method 8021
EPA Method 8260
Molecular FormulaC2Cl4

Link to the National Library of Medicine's Hazardous Substances
Database for more details on this compound.

Use Used in the textile industry for dry-cleaning & for processing & finishing; used in both cold cleaning & vapor degreasing of metals; it is used as a chem intermediate in the synthesis of fluorocarbon 113, 114, 115, & 116; it is used as a heat-exchange fluid SCOURING, SIZING & DESIZING AGENT IN TEXTILE MANUFACTURE COMPONENT OF AEROSOL LAUNDRY-TREATMENT PRODUCTS SOLVENT, EG, FOR SILICONES INSULATING FLUID & COOLING GAS IN ELECTRIC TRANSFORMERS In typewriter correction fluids (eg, Liquid Paper, Wite-Out, Snopake, etc) MEDICATION VET: use in small animals as a ruminant anthelmintic (vermifuge) has been largely replaced by drugs that are less toxic & easier to admin Formerly used, but no longer approved, in mixtures with grain protectants and certain liquid grain fumigants
Consumption Patterns The consumption pattern in the USA in 1974 is est to have been as follows: Textile and dry cleaning industries, 69%; Metal cleaning, 16%; Chemical intermediate (eg, prepn of trichloroacetic acid in some fluorocarbons), 12%; Miscellaneous uses, 3%. Demand: (1982), 545 million lb; (1983), 679 million lb; (1987), 625 million lb (1974) Dry cleaning & textile processing, 59%; Industrial metal cleaning, 21%; Exports, 11%; Chemical intermed (mostly fluorocarbons), 6%; Other, 3%. SOLVENT IN DRY CLEANING, 46%; DEGREASING SOLVENT, 21%; CHEM INTERMED FOR FLUOROCARBONS, 12%; AGENT IN TEXTILE MFR, 7%; COMPONENT OF AEROSOL PRODUCTS, 2%; OTHER, 12% (1980, EST) CHEMICAL PROFILE: Perchloroethylene. Demand: 1988: 495 million lb; 1989: 495 million lb; 1993 projected/: 495 million lb. (Includes exports, but not imports, which totaled 121 million lb last yr). CHEMICAL PROFILE: Perchloroethylene. Dry cleaning and textile processing, 50%; chemical intermediate (mostly fluorocarbon F-113), 28%; industrial metal cleaning, 9%; exports, 10%; other, 3%.
Apparent Color Colorless liquid
Odor Ethereal-like odor ; Mildly sweet, chloroform-like odor ; Chlorinated solvent odor
Boiling Point 121 DEG C AT 760 MM HG
Melting Point -19 DEG C
Molecular Weight 165.83
Density 1.6227 AT 20 DEG C/4 DEG C
Odor Threshold Concentration The distinctive odor of tetrachloroethylene does not necessarily provide adequate warning. Because tetrachloroethylene quickly desensitizes olfactory responses, persons can suffer exposure to vapor concentrations in excess of TLV limits without smelling it. Recognition in air: 4.68 ppm (chemically pure) Perchloroethylene has a not unpleasant etheral or aromatic odor. 50 ppm, odor threshold (very faint) to unacclimated; no physiological effects (8 hr). 100 ppm, odor (faint) definitely apparent to unacclimated; very faint to not perceptible during exposure; no physiological effects (8 hr). 200 ppm, odor (definite) moderate to faint upon exposure; faint to moderate eye irritation; minimal light-headedness; (eye irritation threshold 100-200 ppm). 400 ppm, odor (strong) unpleasant; definite eye irritation, slight nasal irritation; definite incoordination (2 hr). 600 ppm, odor (strong) very unpleasant but tolerable; definite eye & nasal irritation; dizziness, loss of inhibitions (10 min). 1000 ppm, odor (very strong) intense, irritating; markedly irritating to eyes & resp tract; considerable dizziness (2 min). 1500 ppm, odor (almost intolerable) "gagging"; irritation almost intolerable to eyes & nose; complete incoordination within minutes to unconsciousness within 30 min.
Sensitivity Data Eye exposure can lead to conjunctivitis; Skin exposure can lead to inflamation; Inhalation can lead to respiratory tract irritation. Tetrachloroethylene vapor is a mucous membrane & upper resp irritant at levels above 75 to 100 ppm.
Environmental Impact Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is likely to enter the environment by fugitive air emissions from dry cleaning and metal degreasing industries and by spills or accidental releases to air, soil, or water. If PCE is released to soil, it will be subject to evaporation into the atmosphere and to leaching to the groundwater. Biodegradation may be an important process in anaerobic soils based on laboratory tests with methanogenic columns. Slow biodegradation may occur in groundwater where acclimated populations of microorganisms exist. If PCE is released to water, it will be subject to rapid volatilization with estimated half-lives ranging from <1 day to several weeks. It will not be expected to significantly biodegrade, bioconcentrate in aquatic organisms or significantly adsorb to sediment. PCE will not be expected to significantly hydrolyze in soil or water under normal environmental conditions. If PCE is released to the atmosphere, it will exist mainly in the gas-phase and it will be subject to photooxidation with estimates of degradation time scales ranging from an approximate half-life of 2 months to complete degradation in an hour. Some of the PCE in the atmosphere may be subject to washout in rain based on the solubility of PCE in water; PCE has been detected in rain. Major human exposure is from inhalation of contaminated urban air, especially near point sources such as dry cleaners, drinking contaminated water from contaminated aquifers and drinking water distributed in pipelines with vinyl liners, and inhalation of contaminated occupational atmospheres in metal degreasing and dry cleaning industries.
Environmental Fate TERRESTRIAL FATE: If tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is released to soil, it will evaporate fairly rapidly into the atmosphere due to its high vapor pressure and low adsorption to soil. It can leach rapidly through sandy soil and therefore may reach groundwater(1-3). Biodegradation may be an important process in anaerobic soils based on laboratory tests with methanogenic columns. Slow biodegradation may occur in groundwater where acclimated populations of microorganisms exist. There is some evidence of slow degradation in subsurface soils from a groundwater recharge project. PCE should not hydrolyze under normal environmental conditions. AQUATIC FATE: If tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is released in water, the primary loss will be by evaporation. The half-life for evaporation from water will depend on wind and mixing conditions and is estimated to range from 3 hours to 14 days in rivers, lakes and ponds. Chemical and biological degradation are expected to be very slow. PCE will not be expected to significantly bioconcentrate in aquatic organisms or to adsorb to sediment. A mesocosm experiment was conducted to simulate Narraganset Bay during different seasons. Volatilization was the major removal process during all seasons and seasonal differences can be explained by hydrodynamics and the measured half-lives were 25 days in spring, 11 days in winter and 14 days in summer . In one experiment in which half-lives were calculated from concentration reduction between sampling points on the Rhine River and a lake in the Rhine basin, half-lives were 10 days and 32 days, respectively . In a seawater aquarium, an 8 day half-life was demonstrated to be predominately the result of evaporation . In a natural pond, PCE disappeared in 5 and 36 days at low (25 ppm) and high (250 ppm) dose levels, respectively . ATMOSPHERIC FATE: If tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is released to the atmosphere, it will be expected to exist in the vapor phase based on a reported vapor pressure of 18.47 mm Hg at 25 deg C . Vapor phase PCE will be expected to degrade by reaction with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals or chlorine atoms produced by photooxidation of PCE. Estimated photooxidation time scales range from an approximate half-life of 2 months(1,2) to complete degradation in an hour . Some of the PCE in the atmosphere may be subject to washout in rain based on the solubility of PCE in water (150 ppm ); PCE has been detected in rain.
Drinking Water Impact Samples for analysis of volatile organic compounds were collected from 315 wells in the Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer system in southwestern New Jersey and a small adjacent area in Pennsylvania (USA) during 1980-1982. Volatile organic compounds were detected in all 3 aquifer units of the Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer system. Most of the contamination appeared to be confined to the outcrop area. Low levels of contamination were found downdip of the outcrop area in the upper and middle aquifer. Trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene and benzene were the most frequently detected compounds. Differences in the distributions of light chlorinated hydrocarbons, (including tetrachloroethylene)/, trichloroethylene, and aromatic hydrocarbons, ie, benzene, were noted and were probably due to differences in the uses of the compounds and the distribution patterns of potential contamination sources. The distribution patterns of volatile organic compounds differed greatly among the 3 aquifer units. The upper aquifer, which cropped out mostly in less-developed areas, had the lowest percentage of wells with volatile organic compounds detected (10% of wells sampled). The concentrations in most wells in the upper aquifer which had detectable levels were <10 ug/l. In the middle aquifer, which cropped out beneath much of the urban and industrial area adjacent to the Delaware River, detectable levels of volatile organic compounds were found in 22% of wells sampled, and several wells contained concentrations >100 ug/l. The lower aquifer, which was confined beneath much of the outcrop area of the aquifer system, had the highest percentage of wells (28%) with detectable levels. This was probably due to vertical leakage of contamination from the middle aquifer and the high percentage of wells tapping the lower aquifer in the most heavily developed areas of the outcrop. The National Health Department (Italy) had promoted and supported a preliminary survey on the presence of some chlorinated organic compounds in the drinking water. The drinking water of some cities of northern Italy was analyzed for the presence of trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, methylchloroform, carbon tetrachloride, trihalomethanes, polychlorinated biphenyls, and the most common chlorinated pesticides. From March, 1981 to June, 1982, 8 controls were done for 11 sampling points. All water underwent different treatments with carbon. In the raw water, trichloroethylene (47/48) and tetrachloroethylene (34/48) showed the highest frequency of positivity. One well had the highest concentrations of these compounds (trichloroethylene 81-158 ug/l; tetrachloroethylene 15-32 ug/l). In the finished waters, carbon trichloride the most abundant trihalomethane formed during chlorination, was detected in 80% of the 39 samples, against 31% in the 48 raw water samples. No polychlorinated biphenyls and chlorinated pesticides were found at the chosen detection limit (0.05 ug/l). DRINKING WATER: 180 USA cities with finished surface water - 0.3 ppb median, 21 ppb max; 36 US cities with finished groundwater - 3.0 ppb median; roughly 25% of the samples were positive . Contaminated wells had much higher concentrations (a maximum of 1.5 ppm)(2,3). 30 Canadian potable water treatment facilities (treated water) 1 ppb avg, 2 ppb max ; 230 Groundwater public drinking water sources in the Netherlands: 64 are >10 ppb, 12 are >100 ppb, 4 are >1 ppm and 2 are >100 ppm . Federal survey of finished waters in USA: Tetrachloroethylene occurred in 26.1% of groundwater supplies, max concentrate in groundwater and surface water supplies 1500 and 21 ppb, respectively(6). DRINKING WATER: Maximum concentration in tapwater from bank filtered Rhine water in the Netherlands 50 parts per trillion . Old Love Canal, Niagara Falls, NY (9 homes) 350-2900 parts per trillion, 470 parts per trillion median . USA surveys: State data, 1569 samples, 14% pos, trace to 3000 ppb, National Organics Monitoring Survey (NOMS, initiated in 1975), 113 samples, 42.4% pos, 0.2-3.1 ppb, National Screening Program (NSP, 1977-1981), 142 samples, 16.9% pos, trace to 3.2 ppb, Community Water Supply Survey (CWSS, 1978), 452 samples, 4.9% pos, 0.5-30 ppb, Ground Water Supply Survey (GWS, 1982, finished drinking water), 466 samples selected at random from 1000 in survey, 7.3% pos, 0.5 ppb median, 23 ppb max . GROUNDWATER: 27 USA cities, 0.6 ppb median (range 0.1-2 ppb) San Fernando Valley, CA (1981-1983) - 17 of 106 wells exceeded 4 ppb, max 130 ppb . 10 British groundwaters: Equal or <2 ppb in 8 waters and higher levels at 2 sites where the aquifer was grossly polluted . Groundwater underlying 2 rapid infiltration sites 0.07 and 0.63 ppb . Japan, national groundwater survey, 1982, 1,083 shallow wells (most for domestic uses other than drinking water in private homes), 27% pos, 0.2-23,000 ppb, 277 deep wells (public, industrial, and commercial supplies), 30% pos, 0.2-150 ppb . SURFACE WATER: 154 USA cities - 2.0 ppb median, 13.6% positive . Ohio R (1980-81, 11 stations, 4972 samples) - 49% positive, 340 basins in USA (204 sites)-77 sites above 1 ppb, 1 site above 11 ppb . Lake Ontario (95 stations) 9 parts per trillion mean standard deviation 65 parts per trillion . Rhine R, km 865 (1976-1982) 0.12-0.62 ppb with lower concentrations after 1978 . Surface of Lake Zurich - 25-140 parts per trillion, greater concentrations below the surface(5,6). STORET Database, 9,323 data points, 38.0% pos, 0.100 ppb median(7). SEAWATER: 0.1 to 0.8 parts per trillion(1,2). May be several orders of magnitude higher (10 ppb) near source, but concentration diminishes rapidly away from source . Gulf of Mexico (open and coastal) 0-40 parts per trillion where there is anthropogenic influence and <1 parts per trillion in unpolluted areas . Surface seawater Eastern Pacific Ocean 1981 (0-10 m depth), 30 samples, 90% pos, range of pos, 0.1-2.8 parts per trillion, avg of all data, 0.7 parts per trillion . RAIN/SNOW: West Los Angeles (3/26/82) - 21 parts per trillion . Industrial city in England - 150 parts per trillion . La Jolla, California - 5.7 parts per trillion . Central and Southern California - 1.4 and 2.3 parts per trillion resp . EFFL: Industrial 1-20 ppb; Municipal treatment plants 1-10 ppb ; Baltimore Municipal Treatment Plant 8-129 ppb (higher levels in winter) . Industries in which mean or maximum levels in raw wastewater exceeded 1 ppm are (number of samples, percent pos, mean, max, ppm): raw wastewater: auto and other laundries (28 samples, 71.4% pos, <8.4 ppm mean, 93 ppm max), aluminum forming (4, 100%, <2.6, <4.0), metal finishing (96, 42.7%, 4.5, 110), organic chemical/plastics manufacturing (number of samples not reported, 19 pos, 5.1 mean, max concn not reported), and paint and ink formulation (36, 55.6%, 0.95, 4.9); treated wastewater: auto and other laundries (5 samples, 80% pos, 0.58 ppm mean, 1.0 ppm max), aluminum forming (16, 87.5%, <0.24, 3.0), metal finishing (not reported), organic chemical/plastics manufacturing (number of samples not reported, 14 pos, 0.047 mean, max concn not reported), and paint and ink formulation (24, 33.3%, 0.19, 0.70) . Industrial effluent, STORET Database, 1,390 data points, 10.1% pos, 5.0 ppb median .

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