Summary

• 1,1,1-TCE is one of the least toxic of the chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents

• The risk of acute or chronic toxicity is low except at very high concentrations

• The main route of exposure is via inhalation but exposure from dermal contact and ingestion may also occur

• It is a CNS and respiratory depressant, as well as a skin and mucous membrane irritant

• It can cause sensitisation of the myocardium to catecholamines, hence at high concentrations sudden death can occur from cardiac arrest

• The main circumstances of poisoning are accidental occupational exposure and solvent abuse

• 1,1,1-TCE vapour is denser than air and dangerous concentrations may occur in confined spaces, e.g., "empty" storage tanks. This has been the circumstance of several fatal occupational exposures

• 1,1,1-TCE is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity in humans

1,1,1-TCE is a synthetic chemical and has no natural sources, however it is a common environmental contaminant. It was first prepared in 1840 by the action of chlorine on 1,1,1-dichloroethane, and first produced commercially in 1946. It is now produced commercially by chlorination of ethane, or hydrochlorination of 1,1-dichloroethylene or, more commonly, via hydrochlorination of vinyl chloride (Durrans, 1971; IARC, 1979).

1,1,1-TCE is used industrially and domestically as a degreaser, dry cleaning agent, and solvent in paints, glues and aerosol products. A common source is correction fluid and correction fluid thinners, in commercial products such as Tipp-ex®. It is an important chemical intermediate, and is used as an additive to raise the flash point of many flammable chemicals. 1,1,1-TCE has rapid anaesthetic action and was used for this purpose medically but was abandoned with the advent of safer agents.

1,1,1-TCE, methyl chloroform, alpha-trichloroethane, methyl trichloromethane, chlorothene, trichloromethylmethane

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