Cancer risk? Many dry cleaning operations use the chemical solvent perchloroethylene, a probable human carcinogen.

Representatives from the dry-cleaning industry have been meeting with the EPA to discuss changes to the national emission standards for perchloroethylene (or perc).

When the EPA released its rules for perc dry-cleaning operations in 2006, it was decried by industry reps as too harsh, and by environmental groups as not being harsh enough.

The rules included a phase-out of the use of perc in businesses that were located in buildings where people also lived.

Perc is a chemical solvent, often called “dry-cleaning fluid,” which is used by the dry cleaning industry to clean clothing and textiles without water.

Perc has been a problem in some instances when it contaminated the ground, water or air surrounding the business. Some studies have shown that perc is retained in dry-cleaned clothes and that levels increase with repeat cleanings.

After meeting with both industry officials and environmental groups (who want a ban on perc, period), the EPA said it would announce its decision by the end of 2011. The new deadline is the end of April of this year.

EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System assessment on perc had been expected to come out in November, but its release has been delayed.

The publication Inside EPA reported that the Department of Defense raised concerns about the assessment.

Inside EPA said DOD was concerned that EPA used a different method for assessing perc’s risks than it did for a related solvent, trichloroethylene (TCE), even though the agency acknowledges the two compounds are similar.

EPA’s draft of the perc document was released in 2008 and sent for peer review.

The peer review panel completed its work two years ago, agreeing with EPA’s classification of perc as a “likely human carcinogen” but questioning some of the methodology used by EPA in determining risks for various types of cancer. 

Source: National Clothesline

Cleaner air in dry cleaning operations and adjacent businesses

Perc is a chemical that is easily adsorbed by granular activated carbon (GAC) air cleaners. Activated carbon is the most effective and cost-efficient filter media for gaseous pollutants.

Electrocorp specializes in portable, highly efficient air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA air filters for businesses and commercial applications.

For dry cleaning operations, Electrocorp offers a range of air cleaners, including the powerful RSU Series.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.

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