HSE says trichloroethylene is ‘carcinogenic’

A solvent the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had been promoting as an environmentally friendly alternative is ‘carcinogenic’ the safety regulator said in March 2002. HSE said the exposure standard for the common workplace solvent would be tightened from 2002 because the European Union had revised its cancer rating to ‘category 2’, which applies to “substances that should be regarded as carcinogenic to humans.” Use of solvent – also known as trike or trichloroethene – increased after alternative, safer solvents were phased out as part of efforts to protect the ozone layer. HSE actively touted trichloroethylene as an environmentally friendly substitute. This came years after union campaigns to remove the highly hazardous solvent. Unions can campaigners had argued that alternative, solvent-free methods were available for many tasks.

Engineering solvent reclassified as a carcinogen HSE tells managers, HSE news release, 18 March 2002. Risks 46, 23 March 2002.

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