Prompted by a legal challenge by the Sierra Club, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to review their stance on perchloroethylene, the chemical commonly used in dry cleaning establishments. Often called “perc,” perchloroethylene is extremely hazardous for the central nervous systems of the works in dry-cleaning stores and causes harm to the environment. Small amounts of perc stay on clothing and can waft through a home, especially the bedroom, if that is where the clothes are stored. Perc is also a probable carcinogen and suspected endocrine disrupter, meaning that it may confuse the body into thinking it is a natural hormone.
Environmentalists believe that the Bush Administration’s stance on perc was not proactive enough, and the new administration has agreed to take new look at the chemical and consider moving up the timetable for a ban.
In order to avoid perc, seek out establishments that offer “wet” cleaning, using simple detergents, or those that clean by compressing recycled carbon dioxide into a liquid cleaning fluid.