DOD Approach to Establishing New Trichloroethylene Occupational Exposure Limit Falls Short

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a common environmental contaminant at many industrial and government facilities. TCE is used as a degreasing agent, in refrigerant manufacturing, and in spot removers and adhesives. A known carcinogen, TCE can affect the liver, kidneys, neurological system, immune system, reproduction, and development. At some U.S. Department of Defense worksites, employees have been exposed to TCE, and as a result the agency is reviewing the occupational exposure limit for the contaminant.

A new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report found the DOD’s proposed process for determining a new occupational exposure limit for TCE is not sufficient and should be modified.

According to the report, the agency’s approach does not align with best practices and deviates from established systematic review methods. The report recommends strengthening the transparency and rigor of the review process, noting this will dramatically change the process DOD is using to establish a new TCE occupational exposure limit, and may require additional time and resources. The committee that wrote the report also recommended changes to problem formulation, hazard identification, and dose response assessment, among other aspects of the DOD’s approach.

DETAILS: Review of DOD’s Approach to Deriving an Occupational Exposure Level for Trichloroethylene is available for immediate release. Media inquiries should be directed to the National Academies’ Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail