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Providing Technical Assistance to Metal Finishers using Trichloroethylene (TCE): Outcomes and Next Steps. Linda Darveau & Valerie Rickman. Picture courtesy of Roy Crystal. Project Background. Air sampling in the Providence, RI area revealed presence of TCE in the air.

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Providing Technical Assistance to Metal Finishers using Trichloroethylene (TCE): Outcomes and Next Steps

Linda Darveau & Valerie Rickman

Picture courtesy of Roy Crystal

project background
Project Background
  • Air sampling in the Providence, RI area revealed presence of TCE in the air.
  • EPA received complaints from the RI DEM that many metal finishers/polishing shops were out of compliance with air regulations because of TCE use.
  • RI DEM has documented non compliance and is beginning to issue NOV’s, but doesn’t have the resources to pursue all.
initial problems

Degreaser at R & R Polishing Co.

Picture courtesy of Valerie Rickman

Initial Problems
  • RI Industry has two complicated standards to comply with:

- The RI Air Pollution Control Regulation No. 36,

- EPA’s MACT Standard for Halogenated Solvents

  • Conducting workshops & traditional outreach not effective with small shops.
initial steps
Initial Steps

Picture courtesy of Valerie Rickman

  • Started workgroup including RI DEM, RI Dept. Health, Narragansett Bay Commission, TURI
  • Contacted individual metal finishers and performed site visits
    • Initial effort found 9 facilities interested in alternative solutions to TCE
  • Contracted with TURI to test metal parts to find effective alternative cleaner
  • EPA scheduled 1 workshop to allow TURI to demonstrate their testing procedures on metal parts
about turi
About TURI
  • Mission:
    • Research, test and promote alternatives to toxic chemicals used in Massachusetts industries and communities
    • Provide resources and tools for a safer place to live and work
    • Promote economic competitiveness through improved efficiency, compliancy stability and reduced risk
  • The Surface Solutions Laboratory and the CleanerSolutions Database
    • Specializes in finding safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals.
    • Available at
ira green background
Ira Green - Background
  • 270 employees - Products consist of metal pieces for the DoD
    • Military unaware of TCE use in metal finishing operations
  • Used 12,500 pounds of TCE in 2004
  • When EPA contacted Ira Green, the company was very close to exceeding permit limitations
  • Already had enforcement action against them by the RI DEM 2003 and 2004

Images from

ira green finding an alternative
Ira Green – Finding an Alternative
  • EPA collected parts for TURI to test
  • Set up a test tank in Ira Green’s facility
    • Determined that alternative solution works as well as TCE
    • TURI provided free gallon of alternative solution
  • IRA Green currently using alternative in existing ultrasonic tanks for 30% of product, using n propyl bromide as a drop in replacement while waiting to purchase additional ultrasonic equipment.
three a s background

Pictures courtesy of Jason Marshall, TURI

Three A’s - Background
  • Small, family-owned job shop – 4 employees
  • Owner wanted to stop using TCE because of associated health risks
  • Used approximately 55

gallons (~690 pounds)/year at a cost of about $1000

three a s finding an alternative
Three A’s – Finding an Alternative
  • EPA collected parts for TURI to test
  • Needed to find an alternative process that would maintain an antique finish on metal parts
  • An alternative was found that will allow Three A’s to retrofit current degreaser with an immersible transducer, saving money on equipment costs.
next steps
Next Steps
  • Continue site visits to assist shops who want to participate
  • Explore additional barriers to switching to alternatives such as drying issues, water discharge
  • Intern, Valerie Rickman, is working on a “How to” guide for metal finishers who would like to find an alternative to using TCE
  • Investigate whether problem exists in other cities such as Holyoke

Picture courtesy of Valerie Rickman