A Montgomery County facility that uses trichloroethylene, a suspected carcinogen, in its manufacturing processes has agreed to suspend use of the chemical after air samples showed elevated levels of it near the plant.

The regional office of the state Department of Environmental Protection announced yesterday that Tube Methods Inc. of Bridgeport would switch to a new degreasing substance in its manufacture of extremely small tubing for the medical, aerospace and nuclear industries.

The agency has been looking at emissions of the chemical, known as TCE, since discovering elevated ambient air levels in 2004 in the Collegeville area, where two similar facilities are located.

Tube Methods has relatively small emissions - 16.9 tons in 2006, compared to 70 tons for one of the other facilities. But DEP regional director Joseph A. Feola said in a statement that "we were concerned about the impact its Bridgeport facility could have on the community, given its close proximity to residents."

- Sandy Bauers