Wearing dry cleaned clothes can expose you to a cancer-causing chemical, perc.

The dry cleaning industry is in the process of changing.

As the widely used cleaning agent perchloroethylene, or perc, is being phased out by 2020, most dry cleaners have to find a new solvent.

The makers of cleaning agents are scrambling to find replacement cleaners for an industry that hasn’t changed much in decades. It is estimated that almost 80% of dry cleaners rely on perc to clean the clothes, and they have done so since the 1930s.

Perc is good at dissolving oil-based stains, much like turpentine, benzene, kerosene and gasoline (incidentally, all bad for your health if inhaled).

Switching to a new cleaner can be costly, and many dry cleaners are worried that the new cleaning agent won’t work as well.

Most dry-cleaning businesses are independently owned and there are more than 24,000 dry cleaning businesses in the US alone.

What is perc (PCE)?

Perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene, is a colorless liquid widely used for dry cleaning of fabrics.

The industrial chemical is sometimes called “dry-cleaning fluid.” It has a sweet odor detectable by most people and it can cause a reaction in people who are chemically sensitive.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified tetrachloroethene as a Group 2A carcinogen, which means that the cleaning chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans. It has been estimated that about 85% of tetrachloroethylene is released into the atmosphere.

Vapors that escape from poorly maintained or faulty dry cleaning machines can seep through walls and into adjacent apartments or businesses.
PCE is also one of the more difficult contaminants to deal with if it gets into water through spills or leaks because it sinks to the bottom of water supplies.

Clients bringing home dry-cleaned clothes can be exposed to perc when it is released by the fabric (one tip is to air out dry-cleaned clothes in a different room or the garage before hanging them up in the closet).

Industrial-strength air cleaners a boon for small businesses

RSU Series: Industrial-strength air cleaners for chemicals, particles

Whenever industrial chemicals become airborne, they can become a health hazard to workers and others who are exposed to them.

Until PCE-using dry cleaning machines can be phased out, small and medium businesses can help protect themselves and their surroundings simply by using a cost-effective and powerful air purification system.

Electrocorp’s industrial air cleaners feature the deepest beds of activated carbon and the largest adsorbent surfaces on the market to remove chemicals, gases and odors from the air, and they also feature HEPA and pre-filters for superior particle control.

If you are concerned about the indoor air quality in your business or neighborhood, contact Electrocorp today: 1-866-667-0297.