Perchloroethylene is a colorless, nonflammable liquid with a sweet, ether-like odor. It is also called perchlorethylene, tetrachloroethylene, tetrachlorethylene, PCE, or PERC. The chemical formula for perchloroethylene is C2Cl4.
Perchloroethylene is a manufactured chemical that is primarily used for dry cleaning fabrics and degreasing metals. It is also used to make other chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons, and rubber coatings; as an insulating fluid and cooling gas in electrical transformers; and as a scouring, sizing, and desizing agent in textiles. It is an ingredient in aerosol products, solvent soaps, printing inks, adhesives, sealants, paint removers, paper coatings, leather treatments, automotive cleaners, polishes, lubricants, and silicones. It is also an ingredient in some consumer products, including typewriter correction fluid, adhesives, spot removers, wood cleaners, and shoe polish.
Short-term exposure to high levels of perchloroethylene can affect the central nervous system, and cause unconsciousness and death.
Perchloroethylene is listed as a substance "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" in the Eleventh Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program because long-term exposure to perchloroethylene can cause leukemia and cancer of the skin, colon, lung, larynx, bladder, and urogenital tract.
Long-term exposure may also damage the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys; it can also cause respiratory failure, memory loss, confusion, and dry and cracked skin. If you are pregnant, long-term exposure to perchloroethylene may damage a developing fetus.
Short-term exposure to high levels of perchloroethylene can cause buildup of fluid in the lungs, eye and respiratory irritation, severe shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, sleepiness, confusion, difficulty speaking and walking, and lightheadedness.
Short-term exposure to low levels of perchloroethylene can cause dizziness, inebriation, sleepiness, and irritated eyes, nose, mouth, throat, and respiratory tract. Direct contact with perchloroethylene liquid or vapor can irritate and burn the skin, eyes, most, and throat.
If you have a disease of the heart, liver, kidneys, or lungs, you will be more susceptible to the health effects of perchloroethylene.