U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Dense Nonaqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs)

Environmental Occurrence

Halogenated Alkenes


tetrachloroethyleneMillions of pounds of tetrachloroethene (PCE) are produced in the United States and abroad for use in drycleaning operations, degreasing metal, and as a solvent and chemical intermediate. Its greatest use is as a chemical intermediate, although this use is declining due to the ban on chlorofluorocarbons (ATSDR 1997).

PCE is one of the most widely detected organic chemicals at NPL sites. Zogorski et al. (2006) found PCE to be the second most commonly detected volatile organic compound in aquifers and the third most commonly detected compound at concentrations of concern to human health from private and public water supplies. It has been found in relatively remote areas as well. The 2005 Toxics Release Inventory identified 316 facilities that released an estimated 1,942,410 pounds of TCE to the air and disposed of an additional 143,581 pounds at RCRA Subtitle C facilities. These numbers are conservative since not all facilities are required to report.

The U.S. Geological Survey produces reports on the occurrence of contaminants like PCE in localities throughout the United States, including large water basins, as part of the National Water Quality Assessment Program.

The Library of the U.S. Geological Survey provides links to several databases that contain information regarding PCE concentrations in various geographic locations, including water bodies.

For Further Information

The 2005 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Public Data Release Report

Certain classes of businesses report on their releases of pollution to EPA, which compiles the data in the TRI.

Adobe PDF LogoGroundwater Information Sheet: Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
California State Water Resources Control Board, 7 pp, 2009.

This brief groundwater information sheet provides general information (fate and transport, health effects, testing and remediation methods) and identifies where high levels of the compound are found in California. The information is pulled from a variety of sources, and a bibliography is provided.

Handbook of Environmental Fate and Exposure Data for Organic Chemicals, Volume II: Solvents
P. Howard. Lewis Publishers, 1991, 546 pp

This handbook is a compilation of physical, chemical, fate, and transport information on selected organic chemicals.

Adobe PDF LogoToxicological Profile for Tetrachloroethylene
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1997, 318 pp

This profile provides information on human health effects, fate and transport, production, and uses of PCE.

A Review of Contaminant Occurrence in Public Water Systems
Report: EPA 816-R-99-006, 1999

This study represents EPA's most extensive analysis to date of the occurrence of contaminants in nearly 26,000 public water systems regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. More than 70% of the data are from 1993 or later.

Adobe PDF LogoThe Quality of Our Nation's Waters: Volatile Organic Compounds in the Nation's Ground Water and Drinking-Water Supply Wells
Zogorski, John, Janet M. Carter, Tamara Ivahnenko, Wayne W. Lapham, Michael J. Moran, Barbara L. Rowe, Paul J. Squillace, and Patricia L. Toccalino
U.S. Geological Survey, USGS Circular 1292, 2006, 1112 pp

This report summarizes the findings of an investigation of aquifers that supply drinking water to the public. The purpose of the investigation was to determine the presence or absence of 55 volatile organic chemicals in the aquifers.