Information we should all be aware of:
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.