The Ultimate Guide To Replacing TCE Degreasers & Cleaning Fluids
Many companies want to change from TCE (Trichlorethylene) to newer, safer cleaning fluid alternatives. TCE is a powerful and effective industrial cleaner and degreaser. However, it is proven to be hazardous to people and the planet. Therefore, many are turning to the experts at MicroCare to find a suitable substitute for trichlorethylene. There are a number of trichlorethylene replacement options available that will not only provide the cleaning performance required, but can do it safely and economically. MicroCare chemists and field engineers have the critical cleaning expertise you need and can help you smoothly transition from TCE to a newer, safer TCE replacement.
TCE Hazards and Safer TCE Replacement Fluids
The Cost of Using TCE
Many companies may still consider using TCE despite its harmfulness. TCE is less expensive than the trichlorethylene replacement cleaning fluids on the market today. TCE is also versatile and very effective in a variety of applications in many industries. These may seem like good reasons to continue using TCE. However, the hazards of using TCE surely outweigh the benefits.
Human Risk & Toxicity
TCE may cause serious illnesses including cancer. Workers are typically exposed to TCE through inhalation and skin contact. Inhalation is the most common form of workplace exposure, but skin contact is another major route of exposure in the workplace.
Limited, short-term exposure to TCE can cause non-life-threatening side effects for humans like dizziness, fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, skin rashes and irritation to the eyes and throat.
The risk is greater for workers exposed to TCE on a regular basis or for long periods of time. Through chronic exposure, TCE may cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, immune system, reproductive system, and to the developing fetus. TCE is also known to cause cancer in both humans and animals.
TCE is a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) that contributes to global warming due to its release of harmful emissions into the air. It can also cause soil pollution and water pollution that may be harmful to plants, fish and animals. TCE most commonly finds its way into drinking water through industrial discharge or from improper disposal of industrial wastes at landfills. It is often found in soil and groundwater pollution at Superfund sites and has triggered numerous lawsuits filed by people affected.
TCE requires special maintenance to prevent it from turning acid in the vapor degreaser, requiring additional investments in time and materials.
When a vapor degreaser system “goes acid” the solvent must be completely emptied from the machine and disposed as a hazardous waste. In addition, the entire vapor degreaser may potentially need to be re-passivated and could be off-line for weeks or months for heavy maintenance.
Special maintenance is required to prevent systems from “turning acid” in the first place. Acid acceptance tests must be performed weekly to measure the quantity of acid in the solvent. Depending on the outcome of the tests, stabilizers may have to be added to bring the solvent back into balance. TCE also has a strong odor. Often workers complain about the pungent, offensive smell making their area an unpleasant place to work. To protect operators, extra air ventilation systems are often recommended to limit the fumes and improve the working atmosphere.