Human health effects of Trichloroethylene: key findings & scientific issues

BACKGROUND: In support of the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed a toxicological review of trichloroethylene (TCE) in September 2011, which was the result of an effort spanning > 20 years.

OBJECTIVES: We summarised the key findings and scientific issues regarding the human health effects of TCE in the U.S. EPA’s toxicological review.

METHODS: In this assessment we synthesised and characterised thousands of epidemiologic, experimental animal, and mechanistic studies, and addressed several key scientific issues through modelling of TCE toxicokinetics, meta-analyses of epidemiologic studies, and analyses of mechanistic data.

DISCUSSION: Toxicokinetic modeling aided in characterizing the toxicological role of the complex metabolism and multiple metabolites of TCE. Meta-analyses of the epidemiologic data strongly supported the conclusions that TCE causes kidney cancer in humans and that TCE may also cause liver cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Mechanistic analyses support a key role for mutagenicity in TCE-induced kidney carcinogenicity. Recent evidence from studies in both humans and experimental animals point to the involvement of TCE exposure in autoimmune disease and hypersensitivity. Recent avian and in vitro mechanistic studies provided biological plausibility that TCE plays a role in developmental cardiac toxicity, the subject of substantial debate due to mixed results from epidemiologic and rodent studies.

CONCLUSIONS: TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure and poses a potential human health hazard for non-cancer toxicity to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system, male reproductive system, and the developing embryo/fetus.

Read full article on US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

Please note that the tower to the left of the hangar is the exhaust stack for the original Trike bath and is as old as the main ERF building (built 1915-1918).

Recent internal reports by the Air Corps suggest that Trike degreasing was only introduced to the Air Corps in the 1980s but this information is clearly incorrect possibly by 50-60 years.

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