TCE Exposure Risks Due to Vapor Intrusion & Other Pathways

Chatsworth, CA –WEBWIRE – February 10, 2015

Vapor intrusion occurs when there is a migration of volatile chemicals from contaminated groundwater or soil into an overlying building. Volatile chemicals emit vapors that migrate through subsurface soils and into indoor air spaces that can cause exposure concerns for the building’s occupants.

One common chemical pollutant that routinely causes vapor intrusion concerns is the presence of trichloroethylene or TCE. TCE is a nonflammable, colorless liquid with a somewhat sweet odor. It is a type of volatile organic compound (VOC) that has been used mainly as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts and has also been used in some adhesives, paint removers and as a spot remover in the dry cleaning industry. It can be released into the air, water and soil at places where it was produced, used or disposed of. Because it breaks down slowly in soil or water, it is still found in underground water sources in areas where it was used in the past and improperly handled or discarded.

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), “Exposure to moderate amounts of trichloroethylene may cause headaches, dizziness, and sleepiness; large amounts may cause coma and even death. Eating or breathing high levels of trichloroethylene may damage some of the nerves in the face. Exposure to high levels can also result in changes in the rhythm of the heartbeat, liver damage, and evidence of kidney damage. Skin contact with concentrated solutions of trichloroethylene can cause skin rashes.”

TCE contaminated vapor can enter a structure by migrating through contaminated soil or groundwater through cracks in the foundation; from contaminated bath, shower and drinking water; living in proximity to sites where TCE is produced or waste sites containing the chemical; and by using trichloroethylene-containing products such as stains and varnishes, adhesives, paint removers and cleaners,” said David Broadbent, Technical Director of Clark Seif Clark.  “At CSC, our environmental consultants can identify TCE and a wide range of other chemical contaminants that may be present in residential and commercial buildings to help prevent exposure risks.”