Assessing the Human Health Risks of Trichloroethylene: Key Scientific Issues (July 2006)Report in Brief
Trichloroethylene, a solvent widely used as a degreasing agent, is a common contaminant of air, soil, and water at manufacturing facilities, military installations, and hundreds of waste sites around the country. Several animal studies and human population (epidemiologic) studies show that trichloroethylene is associated with several health effects, including cancer. To help protect people from potential health effects of exposure to contaminants, risk assessments are conducted to guide policy and risk management decisions. However, there are several scientific issues that make risk assessments difficult and controversial. At the request of an interagency group composed of the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, this National Research Council report offers independent guidance on scientific issues related to assessing health risks of trichloroethylene. The report provides detailed findings with regard to what the available studies show about various health effects and how to strengthen various aspects of the risk assessment. The report concludes that, because information on carcinogenic risk and other health hazards from exposure to trichloroethylene has strengthened since 2001 and because so many people are exposed to the chemical, federal agencies should finalize their risk assessment with currently available data so that risk management decisions can be made expeditiously.