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Compliance Assistance For Dry Cleaners

Final Amendments to Air Toxics Standards for Dry Cleaners Takes Effect

On July 13. 2006 the final air toxic requirements for dry cleaners using perc was issued. The new rules include a phase-out of perc machines located in residential buildings. By 2020, dry cleaning machines in residential buildings will be prohibited from using perc but may continue to operate if they use alternative technologies (CO2, hydrocarbon, and wet cleaning). More sophisticated methods for detecting leaks, and perc emission standards that parallel New York States DEC Part 232 requirements (installation of vapor barriers, carbon adsorbers) are also part of the new rule and must be employed within two years. The main goals of the new standards is to decrease overall perc emissions in all dry cleaners while focusing on the cleaners that are located in residential buildings, where the greatest risk to the general population exists.

EPA Cites Dry Cleaner in Charlotte Amalie
EPA has cited the largest laundry and dry cleaning operation in the U.S. Virgin Islands for violating federal rules governing the identification, handling, storage and disposal of hazardous waste. EPA is seeking a $280,008 penalty from Island Laundries and its owner McCoy Webster for violations at their facility at #12 Subbase in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
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Dry cleaners* are the single largest users of Perchloroethylene (PCE or perc). Perc is an organic solvent of known human toxicity and is a precursor to ground level ozone (smog). Exposure to perchloroethylene can occur in the workplace or in the environment following releases to air, water, land, or groundwater. PERC enters the body when breathed in with contaminated air or when consumed with contaminated food or water. PERC is less likely to be absorbed through skin contact.  Once in the body PERC can remain, stored in fat tissue. 

Perchloroethylene evaporates when exposed to air.  It dissolves only slightly when mixed with water.  Most direct releases of PERC to the environment are to air. It also evaporates from water and soil exposed to air. Once in air, PERC breaks down to other chemicals over several weeks. Because it is a liquid that does not bind well to soil, PERC that makes its way into the ground can move through the ground and enter groundwater. Plants and animals living in environments contaminated with PERC can store small amounts of the chemical.  Although most dry cleaners use less than 140 gallons of perc a year, there are an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 dry cleaning facilities nationwide. Therefore, the cumulative environmental impact from these numerous facilities is significant.

*(Standard Industrial Classification or SIC Code 7216

The majority of dry cleaners are small businesses whose owners often have technical difficulty understanding our environmental regulations. English may also be their second language. Region 2's Compliance Assistance Program has been established with to provide assistance for small businesses in meeting the federal regulations. EPA's efforts to bring large and small businesses and industries into compliance include a variety of efforts such as public outreach, on-site assistance, compliance guides, Internet information, and more. 

Noncompliance may result in enforcement actions that are publicized. 


The goal of the Agency is to increase compliance in the dry cleaning sector through a heightened awareness of the environmental regulations impacting it and the pollution prevention opportunities available to the sector.

Plain English Guide for Perc Cleaners - Guide to the regulations, perc handling, and record keeping designed for Dry Cleaners who use perchloroethylene.

Fact Sheet with many points of interest concerning perc usage and handling, and how perc affects the general public Exit EPA disclaimer

Multimedia Checklist for Dry Cleaners - a quick and simple way to check your compliance status. Just fill out the questions and see where you stand. The final filled out form can be mailed to EPA and used as a formal request for amnesty under the SBREFA act!

AQMD - The Air Quality Management District Exit EPA disclaimer (AQMD) of California is the air pollution control agency for the four-county region including Los Angeles and Orange counties and parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. This area of 12,000 square miles is home to more than 14 million people--about half the population of the State of California. It is the second most populous urban area in the United States. This site has many issues which are encountered in urban areas where collocation (dry cleaners located adjacent to a residence or another business) is a concern.  This is an excellent site covering many issues, both general and urban, regarding perc.  This site covers such topics as:

  1. Why are Perc Dry Cleaners subject to government regulation?
  2. What air quality rules and regulations apply to Perc Dry Cleaning operations?
  3. What kinds of equipment do Perc Dry Cleaners use?
  4. How are perc emissions controlled?
  5. What do AQMD Inspectors look for?
  6. What if an Inspector finds something wrong?
  7. What additional resources are available to help Perc Dry Cleaners comply?

Regulations & Policies

On September 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued national regulations to control air emissions of perchloroethylene from dry cleaners. The regulation appeared in the September 22, 1993, edition of the Federal Register [volume 58, beginning on page 49354]. The regulation affects all dry cleaners who use perchloroethylene - about 30,000 dry cleaners nationally.

Executive summary, uses, description of chemical properties, health effects, and a summary of regulations of perchloroethylene Exit EPA disclaimer

New York State Dept. or Environmental Protection 6NYCRR Part 232 - NYSDEC code of regulations designed to deal with New York States co-location issues. Exit EPA disclaimer

Final Policy on Compliance Incentives for Small Businesses - This Policy is intended to promote environmental compliance among small businesses by providing them with special incentives to participate in compliance assistance programs or to conduct environmental audits, and to then promptly correct violations.

New York State Department of Health Exit EPA disclaimer and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Exit EPA disclaimer are state agencies with great general  information on health related issues.  These sites include  the effects of perchloroethylene and indoor air, allowable perc exposures, and many other topics. 

Occupational Safety & Health Administration - Exit EPA disclaimer OSHA's mission is to ensure safe and healthful workplaces in America. Since the agency was created in 1971, workplace fatalities have been cut in half and occupational injury and illness rates have declined 40 percent. At the same time, U.S. employment has doubled from 56 million workers at 3.5 million worksites to 111 million workers at 7 million sites.


Trade Associations and Other Services Exit EPA disclaimer

Cleaners Online - the official web site for the dry-cleaning, laundry, and fabricare industry. Connect to the latest news and views of industry professionals. You will also find information on equipment, supplies, and services used on a daily basis.

North East Fabricare Association - provides education, research, legislative representation, and industry-specific information through its many programs. In addition, NEFA provides publications, services, and products that are designed to help run business more effectively.

The International Fabricare Institute (IFI) has been the premier international trade association for garment care professionals since 1833.


Other Related LInks

National Environmental Compliance Assistance Clearinghouse - compliance assistance resources for the Dry cleaning

Emission Inventory Improvement Program - Document Series - Volume III: Area Sources) Dry Cleaners


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