PERC has long been in use as an effective dry cleaning solvent, and much environmental contamination from PERC is linked to historical dry cleaning operations. In the 1970’s and 80’s, in particular, industries that used chemicals for cleaning and degreasing didn’t realize that those chemicals could result in soil and groundwater contamination when spilled. It’s also worth noting that the EPA was not established until 1970, while dry cleaning started in the 1930s.
Considering the potentially-adverse consequences of using PERC in dry cleaning operations, California banned the installation of new PERC dry cleaning machines in 2007 and required that old machines be shut down by 2010. The law also stated that all PERC machines must be taken out of service by 2023. In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved California’s PERC ban.
Currently, the EPA regulates PERC under the Clean Air Act. In compliance with the Clean Air Act, the EPA has developed standards for controlling PERC emissions. The EPA also conducts two reviews to monitor the implementation and success of these standards. Every eight years, they perform a technology review, which seeks improvements in air pollution controls and prevention. The EPA also conducts a residual risk review to assess human health effects after certain standards have been put into effect.
Although California is the only state currently banning PERC from dry cleaning operations, this does not mean other states won’t follow suit. Dry cleaners in all states should be considering this possibility and seeking measures to reduce or eliminate their own use of PERC in their operations. This possibility also makes now an ideal time for dry cleaners to consider proactively addressing any potential contamination issues they may have—the first step of which is hiring an environmental consultant. EnviroForensics is perfectly equipped with a team of environmental professionals who possess the skill and expertise to investigate and remediate environmental contamination from the use of PERC in dry cleaning operations. Call us today at 866-888-7911 or fill out our dry cleaner assessment form for more information.