Perchloroethylene or Tetrachloroethene (PCE, PERC) has been used as an effective dry cleaning solvent in dry cleaning facilities for a number of years. Today, it is the most commonly used solvent. However, PERC can pose health hazards if exposure is not adequately controlled. So, how can one reduce PERC contamination and workplace exposure in dry cleaning and industrial laundry facilities?
Sources of PERC Contamination and Exposure
Employees in dry cleaners can be exposed to PERC while performing routine maintenance on machines and conducting various tasks such as removing clothes (especially thick items) before the drying cycle is finished or transferring solvent-laden garments into the dryer. Working around uncontrolled “fugitive emissions” from dry cleaning machines can also expose workers to high levels of PERC.
Reducing PERC Contamination and Exposure
The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has implemented mandatory standards such as Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200); General requirements for personal protective equipment (29 CFR 1910.132); and Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134) in order to reduce PERC exposure with employees. Laundry and dry cleaning facilities also must comply with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations to control the release of PERC into the environment.
Machine operation and maintenance, building design and ventilation, work practices, as well as PERC storage and disposal are ways in which these facilities comply with these regulations. Air monitoring for PERC release, recordkeeping, and PERC use reporting are also critical when reducing contamination.
EEC Environmental (EEC) has significant experience with the evaluation of industrial laundry facilities that have been impacted by petroleum, chlorinated solvents, and other contaminants. EEC performs a wide range of activities for the laundry industry, including Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), compliance services, Phase II subsurface investigations, insurance cost-recovery, remedial services, regulatory negotiations, and litigation support. EEC provides a broad base of general compliance services to the industrial laundry industry, including regulatory compliance, permitting, emergency business plans, emergency response, safety, Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) compliance, and state-specific compliance such as compliance with California’s SB989.
EEC prides itself on working with landowners, managers, and individual dry cleaner owners to evaluate potential contamination and provide remedies, when necessary, in a manner that allows business to continue uninterrupted so that both the landowner and dry cleaner owner do not lose essential revenue. When dealing with an operating dry cleaner, decisions cannot always be driven by environmental factors alone.
EEC’s overall project goal in supporting the dry cleaning industry is about smart, common sense decisions that meet regulatory requirements that are manageable for the client.
Contact EEC for more information.