The Environment and Dry cleaning

Environmentally Responsible

One of the many advantages of perc as a dry cleaning solvent is that it does not contribute to smog formation, ozone depletion or the "greenhouse" warming effect. In fact, the dry cleaning industry was one of the few industries to actively support the Clean Air Act of 1990, helping to develop tough regulations designed to reduce perc emissions. The industry's voluntary installation of control equipment has already helped to achieve significant reductions in air emissions. Many International Fabricare Institute (IFI) member dry cleaners have purchased perc leak detectors, perc vapor measuring kits, and vapor analysis badges to closely monitor perc vapors and leaks in their plants.

Traditionally, dry cleaners used solvents and detergents to clean clothes. This process avoided saturating certain fabrics in water, which might cause shrinkage or dye bleeding. The solvent used by over 90% of the dry cleaning industry is perchloroethylene (perc). Others use petroleum and new technologies such as wet cleaning have made tremendous strides in the market. Recognizing its responsibility to employees, customers, neighbors and the public, the dry cleaning industry took the lead in incorporating pollution prevention mechanisms and environmental management systems in their operations to reduce solvent emissions and exposures.

A 60-Year Safety Record

Perc's widespread and successful use over more than six decades has shown that it can be stored and used safely in normal dry cleaning practice when proper safety precautions are observed. Dry cleaners pay close attention to keeping the workplace as safe as possible, not only because dry cleaning businesses are often family owned and operated, but because dry cleaners have a moral and ethical interest in proper waste disposal, emission controls, and environmental management. In fact, many IFI member dry cleaners are Certified Environmental Dry cleaners who have proven knowledge of environmental regulations and safety compliance measures.

Proper handling techniques are required by federal and state law because perc is considered moderately toxic - falling into the same classification as many everyday compounds, including household ammonia and bleach, gasoline, antifreeze, and nail polish remover. Perc is less toxic than many common products, such as mercurochrome. Of course, any of these products could be harmful if you drank them or otherwise abused their use, but with normal use, they are all safe.