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How Safe Is Dry Cleaning For The Environment

Connie Jameson

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Although dry cleaning is considered as one of the most effective alternatives to the traditional cleaning with chemicals, it appears that it is not as eco-friendly as you may think. Unfortunately it is definitely not the best choice for the environment. One of the primary solvents used by more than 80% of dry cleaners is a chemical called tetrachloroethene (you may know it as perchloroethylene or perc). This name may not ring any bells, but the truth is that the chemical has a huge number of bad effects, it is toxic and may lead to plenty of health problems. However, it is a great and highly effective cleaning detergent, which, of course, is the main reason for which it is so commonly used. In this article we are going to give you some further information on the topic.

Popular names of the product

  • Tetrachlorethylene;
  • Perchloroethylene;
  • Perc;
  • DOWPER TM Solvent;
  • DOWPER TM N Solvent;
  • Perchloroethylene DG;
  • PCE;
  • CAS No. 127-18-4.;

Basic information on the chemical

It is a colourless, heavy, non-flammable liquid. As we already said, it is a primary solvent, widely used in the industrial and commercial dry cleaning. In 1930's, when the product was first introduced to the dry cleaning industry, it replaced almost all the solvents, used during that time. It is moderately toxic and it is not biodegradable. The people, who are constantly exposed on the high levels of tetrachloroethylene in the air are those using this chemical at their workplace.

Potential exposure

The main groups, which can be exposed on the bad effects of the product, are :

  • The first one includes people, working in facilities, where the chemical is either produced or used. People, working in the dry cleaning industry are extremely vulnerable. In this train of thought, people, working with perc must be provided with an appropriate protective equipment. Also, closed areas must be constantly ventilated.
  • Environmental releases. Although tetrachloroethylene is not flammable, it still releases some harmful gases and chemicals, which are dangerous for the environment and our health. That is why, in a case of a spill, ventilation and respiratory protection are the most important precautions which will prevent further health problems.
  • Consumers' exposure. In fact this group of people is not so hazardous. The main risk for the average consumer is to breath the the emissions in the air. Even people, using the services of the dry cleaning industry, are not at stake. Fortunately, the amounts of this gas in the air are significantly small and there are no serious health risks.

Health effects

As we already mentioned, the product is not highly toxic, but still it can cause some serious health problems. Skin contact with perc may lead to redness and temporary irritation. If repeated, it can cause pain, swelling and tissue damage. Eye contact is also harmful, since it can lead to irritation and pain.

Fortunately, there is nothing to worry about. Professional cleaners remove the perc from your clothes and it is very unlikely for you to understand whether they have used this chemical or not.

Author Bio: Connie Jameson choose the green lifestyle for her and her family. That's why she works at a company where they use only eco - friendly cleaning that are completely save for the environment.


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