EPA Officially Characterizes Perchloroethylene as ‘Likely Human Carcinogen’

Written by John Bird, P.G., Vice President, EnviroForensics.

On Friday, February 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the final health assessment for perchloroethylene (Perc) to the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database.  EPA’s IRIS is a human health assessment program that evaluates risk information on effects that may result from exposure to environmental contaminants.   Perc is a chemical solvent widely used in the dry cleaning industry.  This health assessment appears to confirm longstanding scientific understanding and research, that Perc is a “likely human carcinogen.”  For the first time, the EPA provides estimates for both cancer and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to Perc over a lifetime.

It’s important to note that the EPA does not believe that wearing clothes dry cleaned with perc will result in exposures which pose a risk of concern.  EPA has already taken several significant actions to reduce exposure to Perc. EPA has clean air standards for dry cleaners that use Perc, including requirements that will phase-out the use of Perc by dry cleaners in residential buildings by December 21, 2020. EPA also set limits for the amount of Perc allowed in drinking water and levels for cleaning up Perc at Superfund sites throughout the country, which will be updated in light of the IRIS assessment. Continue reading “EPA Officially Characterizes Perchloroethylene as ‘Likely Human Carcinogen’”