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EU condemns trike as a carcinogen

01 April, 2002

EU condemns trike as a carcinogen

Tricloroethylene, the powerful solvent used for degreasing surfaces, has been re-classified by the European Union as a carcinogen. The compound, commonly known as trike, has not been banned because there are some applications where it is the only viable degreasing agent.

Trike has been classified as a category 2 carcinogen which means that it can cause cancer. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has joined forces with industry bodies, including the Engineering Employers Federation, to draw up an information sheet* that explains what the re-classifcation means and to tell trike users what actions they should now take.

The document suggests that users should consider using an alternative solvent or cleaning process. If this is not possible, they should enclose the degreasing process as far as possible.

Trike is mainly used to clean parts in vapour degreasing tanks, most of which are open-topped. These tanks are not banned, but users are advised to follow the good practice advice contained in the free publication GG15 Vapour Degreasing, available from Envirowise.

If substitute solvents are used, the HSE says that they need to be properly assessed. It warns that using an alternative solvent in a badly maintained plant and following poor practices may increase the risks by exposing workers to high levels of a different hazardous substance.

* EIS34 Surface cleaning: Solvent update including the reclassification of trichloroethylene. Details on 01787 881165.

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