It’s time to get toxic chemicals out of dry cleaning

When perchloroethylene (PERC) was introduced to the dry cleaning industry in the 1930s, it must have seemed like a miracle solvent. Unfortunately, very few are aware of the health risks associated with a lifetime of using a hazardous chlorinated solvent.

When perchloroethylene (PERC) was introduced to the dry cleaning industry in the 1930s, it must have seemed like a miracle solvent.

It cleans clothes well and – most importantly – it is nonflammable. This is in contrast to the previous solvents, like Stoddard solvent, gasoline, turpentine, and even benzene. Because the use of these flammable solvents resulted in catastrophic fires and explosions, government regulations forced dry cleaners to move out of highly populated areas. With the advent of PERC, dry cleaners could move back to population centers, where the customers were.

The dry cleaning industry provided a unique opportunity for a whole generation of immigrants. A 2011 survey indicated that in King County, Washington, for instance, more than 80% of dry cleaning business owners emigrated from South Korea. For many of these immigrants, dry cleaning was the ideal business. They readily grasped the complexity of the dry cleaning process and were able to build successful businesses through hard work.

Unfortunately, very few are aware of the health risks associated with a lifetime of using a hazardous chlorinated solvent.

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Glenforest News


April 20, 2019 by 

The Supreme Court of Canada recently dismissed a Leave to Appeal from an Ottawa dry cleaner that had been held liable for $1.8 million in clean-up costs from spills of dry cleaning chemicals that occurred approximately 45 years ago.

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April 11, 2019   by Greg Meckbach

An Ottawa dry cleaner is liable for nearly $2 million in environmental clean-up costs resulting from spills that occurred at least 45 years ago, as a result of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling released Thursday.

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Contamination in the Strathcona neighbourhood has prompted Todd Cleaners to move out of its 99 Street location amid a dispute with a nearby tower development and an old gas station site over who’s responsible for the cleanup.

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