Most people believe that the importance of green dry cleaning is all about keeping our planet clean, safe, and beautiful. But, it is also extremely important for the health and safety of you and your family. In traditional dry cleaning, one of the most dangerous and toxic chemicals used is PERC.
Did you know there are more 35,000 garment cleaners in the United States, and more than 85% of them use PERC as their primary cleaning agent?
Also known as tetrachloroethene, or perchloroethylene, PERC is a colorless liquid used as a cleaning solution. It is a great cleaning agent but causes numerous side effects to human health and the environment. It can enter the body through inhaling, touching the skin or through contaminated drinking water.
Even minimal exposure to PERC can cause the following health problems in people,
- Skin and respiratory irritation
- Irritated eyes
Continuous exposure to this harmful chemical can lead to severe neurological effects, liver and kidney damage, and cancer. These chemicals not only affect the health of the people who work in the dry cleaning industry, but also the customers who bring home supposedly clean clothes that may have some residual PERC. PERC has a very distinctive odor. If you are smelling something a bit industrial, it is likely to be PERC.
The federal Clean Air Act required all dry cleaners to limit their PERC emissions, but not eliminate them completely, in 1990. Starting back in 2007, the California Air Resources Board adopted the Airborne Toxic Control Measure to phase out all dry cleaners’ use of PERC by 2023. The EPA has classified the PERC solvent as a hazardous air contaminant, and both the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have classified PERC as “likely to be a human carcinogen.”
PERC, if not handled properly, results in groundwater contamination and increased health problems for those in the local area. It can penetrate through nearly any surface, including concrete.
So, before sending your clothes to the laundry, make sure that the dry cleaners you choose are PERC-free operators. As the leading dry cleaning company in Burien, Martini Cleaners has recently changed their dry cleaning from traditional dry cleaning fluid, “PERC,” to a hydrocarbon-based fluid. Hydrocarbon-based fluids are healthier and are found to cause less impact on the environment.