Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) approved California’s regulation that will ban the use of the toxic air contaminant perchloroethylene(PERC) from the state’s dry cleaning business by 2023. The dry cleaning industry is the leading user of PERC in the U.S. PERC is considered a possible human carcinogen.

California originally adopted these measures in January of 2007, when the California Air Resources Board(CARB) approved amendments to the dry cleaning Airborne Toxic Control Measure(ATCM). The five amendments adopted in 2007:

  1. prohibited installation of new PERC machines beginning on 1/1/2008,
  2. eliminated the use of PERC machines at facilities that share a wall with a residence beginning on 7/1/2010,
  3. required converted machines and those that were older than 15 years to be removed from service by 7/1/2010,
  4. all PERC machines be removed once they are 15 years old, meaning all machines must be removed by 1/1/2023, and
  5. expand good operating practices, recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

The new requirements will apply throughout the state except for in incorporated cities within the four counties regulated by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

According to the EPA press release, “this action means that the current federal regulations will be replaced with California’s more stringent approach, which now can be enforced by the federal EPA and citizens of California.” While the use of PERC by the dry cleaning industry has been on the decline over the last eight years, it is in the best interest of the people for this contaminant to no longer be used. As PERC is phased out the move to alternative solvents will take place. Some of those include water-based cleaning, CO2, hydrocarbon solvent, GreenEarth solvent, and PureDry solvent among others.

For more information on the ruling by the EPA visit: www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/dryclean/dryclean.htm and epa.gov/drycleaningrule/basic.html.