What is Tetrachloroethene?
Tetrachloroethene is a synthetic chemical. It is a liquid at room temperature, but evaporates readily. It does not burn, but if subjected to flame will decompose into hydrogen chloride and phosgene. Synonyms for tetrachloroethene include tetrachloroethylene, perchloroethylene, perc, PCE, perclene, and perchlor. [1,3]
Structural diagram: National Institutes of Health
Uses of Tetrachloroethene
Major uses for tetrachloroethene include dry cleaning, cleaning oil and grease from metal parts, and making other chemicals. Products that may contain tetrachloroethene include auto brake quieters and cleaners, suede protectors, water repellants, silicone lubricants, belt lubricants and dressings, specialized aerosol cleaners, ignition wire driers, fabric finishers, spot removers, adhesives, and wood cleaners. Tetrachloroethene was used in the past as a medicine to eliminate worms in humans, but safer and more effective drugs are now available.
Tetrachloroethene in the Environment
Humans can be exposed to tetrachloroethene from environmental, consumer product, and occupational sources. Because tetrachloroethene evaporates quickly, the most common exposure to tetrachloroethene comes from breathing air containing it. This is certainly true for individuals who work with the chemical. Tetrachloroethene may also enter the body through drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. Because tetrachloroethene does not pass through the skin to any significant extent, entry into the body by this path is of minimal concern, although skin irritation may result from repeated or prolonged contact with the undiluted liquid. Scientific reports indicate that tetrachloroethene is present (and may in fact be concentrated) in the breast milk of mothers who have been exposed to the chemical.
Health Effects of Tetrachloroethene
The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards  lists the following symptoms related to tetrachloroethene exposure:
Irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and/or respiratory system
Flushed face and/or neck
Dizziness and/or lack of coordination
Headache and/or drowsiness
NIOSH also lists tetrachloroethene as a potential occupational carcinogen. 
When checked on 7 October 2015, U.S. EPA's Integrated Risk Information System  stated that tetrachloroethene is "likely to be carcinogenic in humans by all routes of exposure." When checked on 7 October 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer  classified tetrachloroethene as "probably carcinogenic to humans."
 NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health