Trichloroethane is most commonly found as the isomer 1,1,1-Trichloroethane CCl3CH3, and at room temperature it is a clear liquid. I spent about a year and a half a while back using gallons of the stuff on a daily basis, and can personally vouch for many of its uses and hazards.

Uses of Trichloroethane

Trichloroethane is most often used as an industrial solvent to degrease metal, and to act as a thinner for coatings, to thin and clean inks and adhesives, and has been used in a wide range of manufacturing processes. Until recently, it was often found in many homeowner's garages as a can of brake cleaning fluid. Its reasonable cost and relative safety due to its low flammability, compared to other solvents such as Toluene, Xylene, Methanol, and Carbon Tetrachloride made it one of the most popular solvents made.

Characteristics

Molecular Weight: ............... 133.4
Melting Point: .......................-33 Degrees C
Boiling Point: .........................74 Degrees C
Vapor Pressure at 20oC :.. 100mmHg
Flash Point: ........................... None
Flammability Limits ............... 7 - 15 percent
Autoignition Temperature ....536 Degrees C
Smell: ...................................... Slightly Sweet, like Chloroform
Solubility in Water ................. Low

Hazards

Trichloroethane is flammable only at high temperatures, and is stable in the environment. It is somewhat toxic, with effects similar to other organic solvents, and can get into the body via ingestion, breathing of vapors, and absorption through the skin. Breathing of vapors can cause effects such as dizziness and slurred speech, and extreme amounts can cause dizziness, unconsciousness, or even death. Exposure to skin can cause dermatitis, and from personal experience using this chemical it will seriously dry out your skin by stripping it of its oils. 8 hour TLV is 350 PPM when breathed, and the allowable limit in drinking water is 20 parts per billion. Like other organic solvents, Trichloroethane is a suspected mutagen Consult CAS 71-55-6 for more information. In general, it is safer to use than other organic solvents due to its low flammability.

Environmental Hazards

Trichloroethane is suspected to be an ozone depleting chemical, and for this reason the use of Trichloroethane is being restricted to essential uses only. Because of its wide use and stability in the environment, Trichloroethane is a common contaminant in drinking water. Waste containing Trichloroethane should be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.


http://www.hsia.org/white_papers/111tri.html
http://www.dhfs.state.wi.us/eh/ChemFS/fs/111tce.htm
http://www.iet.msu.edu/Tox_for_Journ/Chemicals/1,1,1-Trichloroethane.htm

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