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SPRI Emission Reporting Threshold
100 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Air
1.00 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Waste Water
1.00 Kg/yr Pollutant Emissions to Water
This sheet is a generic summary, designed to give the reader a basic level of background information about the substance in question. Great care has been taken to represent as effectively and correctly as possible the broad range of (not necessarily consistent) information which is available from a variety of sources. The reader must accept therefore that this sheet has no legal status and cannot be relied upon in any legal proceedings. SEPA disclaims any responsibility or liability whatsoever for errors and omissions in this sheet.
What is it?
Tetrachloroethylene (PER) is a colourless, sweet-smelling liquid which evaporates very easily. It is almost insoluble in water and non-flammable. PER is part of the group of compounds known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
What is it used for?
The main use of PER is as a dry-cleaning agent for fabrics and textiles and for metal degreasing. It is also used in the regeneration of oil refinery catalysts, to clean cinematographic film, to manufacture other chemicals and for the production of some consumer products.
Where does it come from?
PER is released mainly from dry-cleaning and metal degreasing processes and from waste storage sites. PER is a man-made chemical - there are no natural sources.
How might it affect the environment?
PER released to water and soil readily evaporates into the air, where it is broken down or washed out back into soils or water bodies by rain. It is slowly broken down by micro-organisms in soil. As a VOC it does not play a significant role in the formation of ground level ozone or photochemical smogs.
How might exposure to it affect human health?
Exposure to PER can occur from inhalation of contaminated air in occupational settings or from accidental releases. Low-level exposures are unlikely to damage human health. Higher concentrations may however be carcinogenic and may also cause skin irritation, liver or kidney damage, dizziness, headaches and even death.
What steps are being taken to limit the potential impacts?
In the UK (including Scotland) releases of PER are controlled mainly through the regulations on releases of substances to surface waters; and the pollution prevention and control regulations. European Directives controlling PER emissions include those concerned with the assessment of risks posed by certain substances (793/93); and of solvents (99/13/EC). As a VOC, the main international legislation controlling emissions of PER is the UNECE convention on long-range transboundary air pollution; the Basel convention on transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous wastes; and it is listed as a candidate substance for inclusion under the Helsinki convention which protects the marine environment of the Baltic sea.