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May 3, 2022

Trichloroethylene Use Reduces by 95 Percent Due to REACH Authorization Requirements


The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) reports on the effectiveness of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) authorization process. TCE was added to the authorization list (Annex XIV) in 2013 because of its carcinogenic properties. The substance cannot be placed on the market, or used, unless an authorization is granted by the European Commission (EC) or an exemption applies.

REACH registration data show that 50,000 metric tons of trichloroethylene (TCE) were on the market in 2010. As of January 2022, based on information contained within the authorizations granted by the EC, the estimated current use of TCE is around 1,200 metric tons — this constitutes a 95 percent reduction in TCE. While there may be other drivers for this reduction in use, the report suggests that the primary cause is the REACH regulation.

According to the information available to ECHA, TCE is no longer being used in industrial metal parts cleaning. TCE has been substituted with other solvents (e.g., perchloroethylene) or manufacturing processes (e.g., hot washing). The report recognizes that some alternatives may not be safer than TCE and recommends addressing the risks of structurally related substances via a group approach.