What is TCE?: Here's what you need to know about chemical detected near McClymonds HS

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Oakland's McClymonds High School has shut down its campus indefinitely on Thursday after detecting a potentially harmful chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) in its groundwater.

RELATED: Oakland's McClymonds High School closed for chemical testing

But what is trichloroethylene?

Trichloroethylene or TCE, is a "clear, colorless liquid that has a sweet odor and evaporates quickly," according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

It is produced for mainly commercial uses, such as a solvent for refrigerants and at dry cleaning facilities.

The EPA says TCE is carcinogenic and exposure to the chemical can raise a number of health concerns, including "light-headedness, drowsiness, and headaches."

Short-term exposure can potentially affect the developing fetus in pregnant women, and prolonged exposure can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, immune system and the central nervous system.

TCE can be found in underground and surface water sources as a result of the manufacture, use and improper disposal of the chemical. It can easily get in water and rise up through the soil due to its ability to evaporate easily.
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