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Dry Cleaning Dangers
THINK BEFORE YOU DRY-CLEAN.
Think before you simply drop off your clothes to the drycleaners. Many clothes marked "dry clean recommended" or with the symbol O on its own or with letters can be washed at home IF you use the appropriate liquid, method and take the time to wash with care. We hope you find the information in the
following sections useful.
There is growing concern about the human and ecological impact of dry cleaning chemicals. Dry cleaning chemicals are known to be dangerous to people who work in the industry.
Before World War I, cleaning fluids were generally petroleum-based. This changed with the introduction of a chemical called perchloroethylene or PERC. PERC was nonflammable and believed to be safe. Most dry cleaning businesses use the chemical, though it has been deemed a hazard. PERC also ends up in the environment as waste.
Green peace says "Perc is a common groundwater contaminant. A report on groundwater contamination in the UK lists Perc as one of four common solvents that pose a risk to groundwater sources. The report states that the number of incidences have increased due to accidental spillage or casual disposal. The report warns that
"they are potentially a very serious form of groundwater pollution and even a small spill of a few litres in volume could in theory contaminate many millions of litres of groundwater."
Professional cleaners remove perc from drycleaned clothes as part of the overall cleaning process. You cannot tell by odor alone whether all the perc has been removed from your clothes. If you think all of the solvent was not removed, or if your newly drycleaned clothes smell like solvent, ask your cleaner to re-process your order or take them to another cleaner for re-cleaning
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