Recently Noted – the chemical industry, government, and personal connections to TCE

Back in the early and mid ‘70s both Karen and I worked in various machine shops and other industrial locations. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was used on a daily basis to clean metals parts and other materials. I remember a large tank of slowly roiling hot TCE at Stevens Arnold, Inc. in South Boston. I would use it several times a day to clean parts. Every week or so I would be detailed to drain the tank, it probably held 30 gallons or so, and scrape the congealed grease and oils of the sides. I no longer remember how we got rid of the dirtied TCE. Later out in Acton, MA at Minuteman Laboratories we used TCE again, this time in much small quantities and without the high temperature. The only cautions given were not to let it get in contact with your skin because it would take all of the oils out and make your fingers look like an early stage of leather production.

This afternoon I listened to a podcast Reveal – The Tell-Tale Hearts ( “Unborn babies’ hearts are at risk as EPA caves to chemical companies’ 20-year effort to whitewash the science on the risks of an extremely dangerous and prevalent chemical, TCE. ”

This is another example of capitalists externalizing costs and a government dominated by corporations and the wealthy failing to act even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. But the extent of this failure to protect us from the chemical industry is only revealed when you note that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has over 85,000 chemicals on its watch list. 85,000 chemicals developed by industry and put into use without any systematic consideration of who might be harmed by them. But, you can be sure all of them are profit-makers for industry.

“No one, not even the Environmental Protection Agency, knows how many chemicals are in use today. EPA has more than 85,000 chemicals listed on its inventory of substances that fall under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). But the agency is struggling to get a handle on which of those chemicals are in the marketplace today and how they are actually being used.”1

The podcast is well worth a listen. It is a great example of how capitalism works and enforces its needs through control of the government. Especially telling is the visit to the cemetery at Camp Lejeune, a Marine training installation,  where there are rows of plots filled with babies. BTW, there is also a Wikipedia entry for “Camp LeJeune water contamination” (


  1. accessed 3/1/2020