Lab Canada

New federal regulations to reduce the use and release of TCE and PERC into the environment

Ottawa, ON August 19, 2003 The federal government is planning the introduction of new regulations that will significantly reduce future contamination of air and water from two toxic substances used in manufacturing processes across Canada.

The regulations, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), will bring about a 65% reduction in the use of trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PERC) in substances used in solvent degreasing operations.

“The Government of Canada has worked with industry and other stakeholders to develop these regulations which will help protect our health, air and water from future environmental contamination,” said Environment Minister David Anderson. “The new regulations are an example of the Government of Canada’s continuing collaboration with provinces, territories and municipalities in areas of the federal government’s jurisdiction, such as pollution prevention planning, water quality research, monitoring and standards and drinking water quality guidelines.”

Solvent degreasing involves the use of solvents to clean soils from surfaces prior to manufacturing processes such as painting, plating, repair or product assembly. Solvent degreasing is used in industries including automobile, auto parts, aerospace, furniture, appliance, primary metals and electronics.

The Solvent Degreasing Regulations will require solvent degreasing operations that exceed a certain threshold, to reduce the use of TCE and PERC by 65% by 2007 and through reduced use, ultimately reduce the release of these substances into the environment. Some facilities have already introduced new control technologies or switched to alternative solvents or cleaning processes. In fact, recent data indicates a significant reduction in the use of TCE and PERC in solvent degreasing operations from 1995 to 2000. These new regulations will accelerate this trend.

Most of the PERC in Canada is used in dry-cleaning operations. Regulations requiring dry-cleaners to reduce PERC use and emissions by 70% by 2005 came into effect in March 2003. Many dry-cleaners are already greening their facilities by using alternative solvents, new technology equipment and improved waste management practices. These regulations will address approximately 98% of the total use of these substances in solvent degreasing.

Health Canada is also currently reviewing the TCE Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water and is proposing to lower the level of permissible TCE to be consistent with the guidelines in the United States. The new Canadian guideline value would become official at the earliest in the fall of 2004.