Today’s Guest Blog is by Steve Whittaker and Ashley Pedersen with the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, Washington. The article was originally posted in Environmental Health News on December 13, 2018.
Perchloroethylene, a probable human carcinogen, remains the most frequently-used solvent for dry cleaning. It's time to help the industry change—and our county is doing just that.
When perchloroethylene (PERC) was introduced to the dry cleaning industry in the 1930s, it must have seemed like a miracle solvent.
It cleans clothes well and – most importantly – it is nonflammable. This is in contrast to the previous solvents, like Stoddard solvent, gasoline, turpentine, and even benzene. Because the use of these flammable solvents resulted in catastrophic fires and explosions, government regulations forced dry cleaners to move out of highly populated areas. With the advent of PERC, dry cleaners could move back to population centers, where the customers were.
The dry cleaning industry provided a unique…