1,1,2-Trichloroethane, or 1,1,2-TCE, is an organochloride solvent with the molecular formula C2H3Cl3. It is a colourless, sweet-smelling liquid that does not dissolve in water, but is soluble in most organic solvents. [1] 1,1,2-Trichloroethane does not burn easily and boils at a higher temperature than water. [2]

Uses [3]

1,1,2-Trichloroethane is used as a chemical intermediate and a solvent. 1,1,2-Trichloroethane is primarily used as a chemical intermediate in the production of 1,1-dichloroethene. It is also used as a solvent for chlorinated rubbers, fats, oils, waxes, and resins.

In the Environment [4]

1,1,2-Trichloroethane will exist as a gas if released to the atmosphere. It dissolves only slightly when mixed with water. It also evaporates from soil and water when they are exposed to the air. In the air when it reacts into other chemicals, it takes a long time. It has moderate acute (short-term) toxicity on aquatic life. It has moderate chronic (long-term) toxicity to aquatic life. Chronic and acute effects on plants, birds or land animals have not been determined. 1,1,2-Trichloroethane does not bioaccumulate. Industrial emissions of 1,1,2-Trichloroethane can produce elevated concentrations in the atmosphere around the source. Since it takes a long time to breakdown in the air it is likely to spread far from where it is used. Most of the releases are to the air, releases to the soil and water quickly evaporate to the air. Since it does not bind to soil well, 1,1,2-Trichloroethane that makes its way into the ground, and does not evaporate may move through the ground and enter groundwater.

Sources of Emission & Routes of Exposure

Sources of Emission [4]

  • Industry sources: The primary sources of 1,1,2-Trichloroethane emissions are the industries that manufacture it or use it in production. Some of the industries that use it in production are the chemical industry, rubber manufacturers, heavy equipment manufacturing, the timber products industry, the plastics and synthetics industries and laundries. These are emissions to the air unless there is a spill.
  • Diffuse sources: Other possible emitters of 1,1,2-Trichloroethane are the electronics industry (solvent use) and manufacturers of fabricated metal parts.
  • Natural sources: 1,1,2-Trichloroethane does not occur naturally in the environment.
  • Transport sources: No mobile sources.
  • Consumer products: Aerosol paint concentrates.

Routes of Exposure [2]

1,1,2-Trichloroethane can enter the body when a person breathes air contaminated with it, or when a person drinks water containing this compound. It can also enter the body through the skin. After it enters the body, it is carried by the blood to organs and tissues such as the liver, kidney, brain, heart, spleen, and fat.

Experiments in which animals were given 1,1,2- trichloroethane by mouth have shown that most 1,1,2-trichloroethane leaves the body unchanged in the breath and as other substances that it was changed into in the urine in about 1 day. Very little stays in the body more than 2 days.

Health Effects

Acute Effects [3]

1,1,2-Trichloroethane is a potent central nervous system depressant. In high concentrations, in air, with closed or poorly ventilated areas, single exposures to 1,1,2-Trichloroethane may cause central nervous system effects leading to dizziness, headache, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, difficulty in speaking or walking, and possibly unconsciousness, coma and death. It is a narcotic at high levels. Exposures to vapour concentrations near 2,000 parts per million for five minutes cause central nervous system depression and the effect of being anaesthetised. Adverse liver and kidney effects have are possible from high exposures or from long-term exposure to 1,1,2-Trichloroethane. It will also defat the skin causing irritation and dryness. Other effects may include headache, tremor, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

Chronic Effects [4]

  • No information is available on the chronic effects of 1,1,2-trichloroethane in humans from inhalation or oral exposure. Animal studies have not observed adverse effects from chronic inhalation exposure to 1,1,2-trichloroethane. Effects on the liver and immune system have been noted in chronic oral studies. EPA has not established a Reference Concentration (RfC) for 1,1,2-trichloroethane.
  • The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) has established a chronic reference exposure level of 0.4 milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) based on liver effects in rats.
  • The Reference Dose (RfD) for 1,1,2-trichloroethane is 0.004 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/d) based on clinical serum chemistry in mice.

Reproductive/Developmental Effects [4]

  • No information is available regarding developmental or reproductive effects of 1,1,2-trichloroethane in humans from inhalation or oral exposure.
  • Animal studies have not reported developmental or reproductive effects from oral exposure to 1,1,2-trichloroethane.

Cancer Risk [4]

  • No studies are available regarding cancer in humans from inhalation or oral exposure.
  • A study by the National Toxicology Program reported liver tumours and adrenal tumours in mice, but no tumours in rats from exposure to 1,1,2-trichloroethane by gavage.
  • EPA has classified 1,1,2-trichloroethane as a Group C, possible human carcinogen.

Safety [5]

First Aid Measures

  • Eye Contact: Check for and remove any contact lenses. Immediately flush eyes with running water for at least 15 minutes, keeping eyelids open. Cold water may be used. Do not use an eye ointment. Seek medical attention.
  • Skin Contact: After contact with skin, wash immediately with plenty of water. Gently and thoroughly wash the contaminated skin with running water and non-abrasive soap. Be particularly careful to clean folds, crevices, creases and groin. Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. If irritation persists, seek medical attention. Wash contaminated clothing before reusing.
  • Serious Skin Contact: Wash with a disinfectant soap and cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Inhalation: Allow the victim to rest in a well-ventilated area. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Serious Inhalation: Evacuate the victim to a safe area as soon as possible. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seek medical attention.
  • Ingestion: Do not induce vomiting. Examine the lips and mouth to ascertain whether the tissues are damaged, a possible indication that the toxic material was ingested; the absence of such signs, however, is not conclusive. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seek immediate medical attention.

Exposure Controls & Personal Protection

Engineering Controls

  • Provide exhaust ventilation or other engineering controls to keep the airborne concentrations of vapours below their respective threshold limit value.
  • Ensure that eyewash stations and safety showers are proximal to the workstation location.

Personal Protective Equipment

The following personal protective equipment is recommended when handling 1,1,2-trichloroethane:

  • Splash goggles
  • Lab coat
  • Gloves

Personal Protection in Case of a Large Spill:

  • Splash goggles
  • Full suit
  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • Suggested protective clothing might not be sufficient; consult a specialist BEFORE handling this product.

Regulation [2,4,6]

United States

OSHA: Occupational Safety & Health Administration has established the following Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL):

  • General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000 Z-1 Table — 10 ppm, 45 mg/m3 TWA; Skin
  • Construction Industry: 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A — 10 ppm, 45 mg/m3 TWA; Skin
  • Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards — 10 ppm, 45 mg/m3 TWA; Skin

ACGIH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists has set a Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for 1,1,2-trichloroethane of 10 ppm, 55 mg/m3 TWA for an 8-hour workday in a 40-hour workweek.

NIOSH: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has established a Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) for 1,1,2-trichloroethane of 10 ppm, 45 mg/m3 TWA;

EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency has set a limit of 0.005 milligrams of 1,1,2-trichloroethane per litre of drinking water (0.005 mg/L). Discharges, spills, or accidental releases of 100 pounds or more of 1,1,2- trichloroethane must be reported to the EPA.


Safe Work Australia: Safe Work Australia has established a Time Weighted Average (TWA) concentration for 1,1,2-trichloroethane of 10 parts per million over an eight-hour work shift.