What is PERC in Dry-cleaning Business

Why Choose a Green-Cleaning system?

PERC is dangerous to our environment, to animals, to adults and to children. We can be exposed to PERC as easily as through the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The dominant chemical used by the dry-cleaning industry to clean our garments is perchloroethylene which is also known as PERC and tetrachloroethylene. PERC is a colorless, nonflammable liquid. The largest user of PERC is the dry cleaning industry. It accounts for 80% to 85% of all dry cleaning fluid used. According to an OPPT chemical fact sheet prepared by the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics of US Environmental Protection Agency (August 1994): “PERC does not occur naturally but is produced in large amounts by 3 US companies. Exposure to perchloroethylene can occur in the workplace or in the environment following releases to air, water, land, or groundwater. Exposure can also occur when people:
- use products containing PERC
- spend time in dry cleaning facilities that use PERC
- live above or adjacent to these dry cleaning facilities, or
- bring dry cleaned garments into their home.

PERC enters the body when breathed in with contaminated air or when consumed with contaminated food or water. It is less likely to be absorbed through skin contact. Once in the body PERC can remain, stored in fat tissue.”
Short term exposure to PERC causes neurological, kidney and liver damage. Long term exposure can cause spontaneous abortions and leukemia (Information from the US Environmental Protection Act http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/tet-ethy.html). PERC has also been found in the breast milk of nursing mothers at concentrations higher than those found in the blood. This is important and bears repeating because once PERC is in the body it can remain, stored in fat tissue. When those fats are broken down for nursing mothers to feed their babies, the PERC found in those tissues is fed directly from the mother into the baby. We can be exposed to PERC as easily as through the air we breathe and the water we drink. PERC is dangerous to our environment, to animals, to adults and to children.

The use and disposal of PERC is heavily regulated by the Canadian Environmental Protection ACT (CEPA) and while PERC is no longer produced in Canada it continues to be imported, primarily for use as a solvent in the dry-cleaning and metal-cleaning industries ( http://www.ec.gc.ca/substances/ese/eng/psap/

As we all know, we can regulate anything we want but regulation does not necessarily translate into safety for citizens. Accidents happen and mistakes occur. Environment Canada notes: Tetrachloroethylene has been measured in outdoor air and in the air inside homes within Canada, and has been detected in drinking water across the country and in contaminated surface waters in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The substance is present in groundwaters in several provinces, often as a result of its inappropriate disposal and release from dry-cleaning facilities or landfills.

The reason to choose a Green-cleaning system over dry-cleaning is obvious. It’s safer. For you as the customer, for me as a worker, for our children and the environment. Perchloroethylene is a toxic substance. It is dangerous to human and animal health and it harms the very environment we depend upon.

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