Perchloroethylene – Common Household Chemical of the Month

What is it? Perchloroethylene, aka PCE, is a manufactured chemical used mostly as a cleaning agent. PCE is a colorless, nonflammable liquid with a faint, sweet odor. It is also a volatile organic compound, which means it can turn into a gas. It’s usually a liquid, capable of dissolving another substance.

Where is it found? Scouring cleaning supplies, stain removers, paint products, degreasing agents, and other household cleaners. It’s the solvent used by about 85% of U.S. dry cleaners.

Why should I avoid it? First of all, you need to know that there is no safe level of PCE. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified PCE as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans”. Studies have linked it to a slew of different cancers:

· Bladder cancer

· Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

· Multiple myeloma

· Leukemia

· Rectal cancer

· Lung cancer

· Esophageal cancer

· Kidney cancer

· Cervical cancer

· Breast cancer

· Liver cancer

· Ovarian cancer

· Prostate cancer

Not only has this chemical been determined to play a role in cancer, but it is especially dangerous for pregnant women. It can cause a handful of horrible symptoms to expecting mothers and unborn babies. While small levels of PCE have been found in the air and water supply, I would recommend avoiding having it in your home by choice. 

Safer alternatives – Norwex offers an awesome stain remover free of chlorine, bleach, and other harsh chemicals. There are also safer alternatives for removing grease or other sticky substances. One of my favorites is Cleaning Paste. You can get years of use out of one container. Cleaning Paste is “elbow grease in a jar”! Use it for scuff marks, grease, permanent marker, anything sticky, and so much more!

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