Cleaner Dry Cleaners

An experiment gets under way to replace a widely used solvent, perc

MORE THAN 80% OF U.S. DRY CLEANERS RELY ON THE solvent PCE (perchloroethylene), a chemical that is listed under the Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant. Perc, as it is commonly known, can cause dizziness and headaches in workers, and some controversial studies link it to miscarriage and cancer. Perc is also fingered for contaminating underground water systems as well as apartments and restaurants adjacent to dry-cleaning establishments.

About 40% to 45% of the estimated 500 million pounds of perc produced annually is used by cleaners. In an effort to reduce exposure to perc, the Environmental Protection Agency, in...

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