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topic 10524

When 1,1,1 TCA Came Into Use in Vapor Degreasing


I am an environmental consultant and would appreciate knowing of any published information which confirms my general understanding that 1,1,1 TCA came into greater use in vapor degreasing in the late 1970s/early 1980s and was used extensively through the 1980s for this purpose. One of my clients is a retired man who operated a plating business during the 1980s and recalls using only 1,1,1 TCA. We have significant tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) ground water contamination and only limited impact by 1,1,1 TCA and it's my belief that the PCE and TCE are from prior operations dating back to the 1960s. The old operators are bankrupt, as are their insurance companies, but we may be able to recoup some of our cleanup and study costs from a State fund, if we can make the case that the main impacts (PCE and TCE) are from historical operations.

Sorry for the lengthy post - any help would be much appreciated!

Jim Peterson
- Princeton, New Jersey


PCE has been used for many years to remove wax masking film from plated parts. TCE was a very common vapor degreasing solvent in most plating shops until the Montreal Protocol took effect which forced most people to TCA. Now that ozone depletion is a bigger worry than carcinogens, TCE is in favor again. EPA conveniently decided that a human liver was not the same as a lab rat and that TCE was not that big a problem.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


I must have disengaged my brain on the last response. Conversion from TCE to TCA was the result of USEPA in the early 80's. The Montreal Protocol was the death knell for TCA, freon and etc.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida



Thank you for the response. I was wondering if there is anything published that you may know of regarding the switch to TCA. People in the plating business may know this, but I need to provide some proof of the plating industry trend away from TCE in the late 70s and early 80s.

Thanks again,

Jim Peterson
- Princeton, New Jersey


The company that I worked for switched in 1981. Talk to the good folks at Dow Chemical. They were the largest manufacturer of TCE and did the lions share of proving that is was not severely carcinogenic to humans, just lab rats.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


"Products Finishing"magazine had a good multi-part series on vapor degreasing--a column as I recall--written by J B Durkee. I think it will contain what you're looking for.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


We are a chemicals trading company in INDIA. We are also dealing Trichloroethylene. But some of our customers are telling that TCE is a restricted material after 2005 in India and asking for some de-aromatized hydrocarbons with high flash point solvents. They are also raising a question if this de-aromatized hydrocarbon solvent whether can replace TCE or not effectively? Kindly revert me in this regard. Expecting your valuable reply.

Best regards,

Chemicals trading - Chennai,Tamilnadu, India.


My understanding is that n-propyl bromide is very close to being a drop-in replacement, but is very expensive.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


This refers to the post by Mr. Peterson on 8/28/01. I too have a similar issue and am attempting to definitively confirm the near-exclusive use of TCE in vapor degreasing during the 1960-1970 era.

If you've uncovered supporting data for this matter I'd be interested in discussing.


Bob Mussro
- Warner Robins, Georgia, USA


The June 2000 (Volume 1, No. 2) issue of the journal, Environmental Forensics, has two articles that summarize the history of chlorinated solvent use. These can be obtained at:

Good Luck!

James L. Peterson
- Princeton, New Jersey

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