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Green “Dry” Cleaning March 23, 2009

Filed under: Environmental Wellness — aprasek @ 11:12 pm

Information we should all be aware of:


Are Your Clothes Full of Perc?


According to the Occidental College’s Pollution Prevention Center, 85 percent of the more than 35,000 dry cleaners in the United States use perchloroethylene (or perc, for short) as a solvent in the dry cleaning process.


Perc is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC) that poses a health risk to humans and a threat to the environment. Minimal contact with perc can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and skin and respiratory irritation. Prolonged perc exposure has been linked to liver and kidney damage, and cancer. Perc has been identified as a “probable” human carcinogen by California’s Proposition 65.


Perc can enter the body through drinking water contamination, dermal exposure, or most frequently, inhalation. This is not only a health hazard and environmental justice issue for workers in the dry cleaning business, but for consumers who bring home clothes laden with perc. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that clothes dry cleaned with perc can elevate levels of the toxin throughout a home and especially in the room where the garments are stored. Nursing mothers exposed to perc may excrete it in their milk, placing their infants at risk.


Click here to read the full article and learn how you can clean up your dry cleaning.



2 Responses to “Green “Dry” Cleaning”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Hey Aimee,
    Thanks for posting. I think people take things like “dry cleaning” for granted. Here’s some info on EPA’s website that helps you learn about alternatives to perc. Maybe people can think of it this way…if a business is regulated to have a Hazardous Waste inspector visit their shop on a regular basis, you may want to think about what it is you are being exposed to. If a chemical isn’t good enough to go down the drain and get in to your drinking water…is it really good enough to be placed on your body? Here’s the site. http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/garment/wsgc/wetclean.htm

  2. Aimee Says:

    Great points Kathy, and what an important question to ask, “If this isn’t good enough to go down the drain… is it really good enough to be placed on your body?” We should ask that question more often. Thanks for the EPA link too- great info!

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