Historically the main source of potential exposure to tetrachloroethylene (also known as ‘Perchloroethlyene’ or ‘Perc’) is in the dry-cleaning industry. However, more recently the design of modern and more efficient dry cleaning machinery and advances in both technology and garment care have contributed to reducing exposures. Exposure may also arise in the manufacturing industry through the use of tetrachloroethylene as a degreasing agent, although it is usually used within closed systems thereby limiting exposures.
Exposure to tetrachloroethylene is associated with cervical, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and oesophageal cancer, although the causal link at these sites is unclear. The cancer burden study estimates the number of cancer deaths as around 140 per year.
By registering, information on initiatives relating to tetrachloroethylene is available on the Occupational Disease Community site.
HSE’s web pages for the laundry/dry-cleaning industry and in the manufacturing industry provide information on the safe use of tetrachloroethylene.