• Worrawit Nakpan Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University
Keywords: Trichloroethylene, Chemical exposure, Carcinogen, Occupational health, Workplace


Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a well-known volatile organic compound. The chemical is widely used as a solvent for degreasing metal or electronic parts in industries. For years, the potential health risk associated with occupational exposure to TCE has been constantly studied. It has been known that the primary routes of TCE exposure are chemical inhalation and dermal absorption. The health effects are related to the period of exposure and the concentration. Short-term exposure to TCE may affect the nervous system, liver, kidneys and immune system, while long-term exposure has been linked to carcinogenic tumors in several target organs such as liver and kidneys. For the occupational exposure standpoint, the regulations and recommendations generated by U.S. federal government agencies were explained in this article. The mechanisms of action when TCE was absorbed into the body were also elaborated in detail. It was found that TCE can be metabolized into two different pathways: oxidation and conjugation. Each pathway has different target organs. For example, the oxidative pathway can mainly affect the liver, whereas the glutathione (GSH) conjugation goes to kidneys. For both acute and chronic effects, dose-response relationships were identified in this article. Thus, the objective of this article is to update the current situation and to review the toxicity of TCE with epidemiology data, especially kidney-related cancer, for better understanding.


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