Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a man-made chemical that can be a liquid or gas. It is mainly used as a solvent in manufacturing to degrease metal parts. It can also be used in the production of other industrial chemicals. A variety of home products may contain TCE, including wood finishes, glues and adhesives, paint or paint removers, spot cleaners, and metal cleaners.
Breathing TCE vapor, especially at high levels or over long periods of time, can have harmful health effects. Visit the Minnesota Department of Health's TCE web page for more information.
TCE in Minnesota
In May 2020 the Legislature passed a partial ban on TCE, making Minnesota the first state to have legislation that restricts most permitted uses of TCE. The ban becomes effective June 2022 and will apply only to sites required to have an air quality permit from the MPCA. Businesses with less than 500 full-time employees may apply for a one-year extension.
- A facility is not subject to the ban if it is exempted from needing an air quality permit by following specific requirements (conditionally exempt source).
- A facility is not subject to the ban if it has potential air emissions below air quality permit thresholds.
Learn more: Taking action on TCE
Some Minnesota companies use TCE in their industrial processes and operate under MPCA air permits that regulate how much can be emitted from their facilities. TCE may also be used by some businesses in small enough amounts that their usage is not regulated by the MPCA.
Land and groundwater contamination
At many industrial sites that pre-date modern environmental laws, TCE was disposed of onsite, contaminating both land and groundwater. In some cases, TCE in groundwater is creating vapor intrusion issues, where chemical vapors migrate from contaminated groundwater through the soil into the basements or foundations of buildings. These sites are being addressed by the MPCA’s Remediation programs.