EPA Officially Characterizes Perc as ‘Likely Human Carcinogen’

Staff Writer |

No Health Risk from Wearing Dry-cleaned Garments, Agency Says

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday officially characterized tetrachloroethylene—also known as perchloroethylene (perc)—as a “likely human carcinogen,” but the agency does not believe that wearing clothing dry-cleaned with perc poses a health risk.

EPA issued its final health assessment to its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database, which describes health effects that may result from exposure to various substances. The assessment provides estimates for both cancer and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to perc over a lifetime.

The agency has already taken several significant actions to reduce exposure to perc. It has clean air standards for dry cleaners that use perc, including requirements that will phase-out the chemical’s use in residential buildings by Dec. 21, 2020.

EPA also set limits for the amount of perc allowed in drinking water, and levels for cleaning up perc at Superfund sites throughout the country, which will be updated in light of the IRIS assessment.

“The perc health assessment released today will provide valuable information to help protect people and communities from exposure to perc in soil, water and air,” says Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This assessment emphasizes the value of the IRIS database in providing strong science to support government officials as they make decisions to protect the health of the American people.”

The assessment replaces the 1988 IRIS assessment for perc and for the first time includes a hazard characterization for cancer effects. The new assessment has undergone several levels of rigorous, independent peer review, the EPA says, including: agency review, interagency review, public comment, and external peer review by the National Research Council.

EPA’s updated perc IRIS assessment can be found here.

Additional information about perc is available here.



It's way over due


Dry cleaning has been in my life since i was 10 ten years old .. i am now 74 years of age. as a senior, i am in pretty good shape. use me as a ginny pig if you so choose !!!!! exacly what method do you choose to come to your findings ... i've been hearing and reading about your fight against (perc)for many many years. it has cost me thousands and thousands of dollars to keep upgrading my dry cleaning equipment because of your foolish experiments ... do you ever go out in the FIELD, personaly with your little meters and gizmose and actualy check on 4th and 5th generation eqipment? we are checked constantly more and more by state and health departments. if a dry cleaner is sloppy with his business, they are heavily fined, as is deserved, But to make such a hardship on all the rest of us is VERY disgraceful. it's hard enough just trying to keep our heads above water, without you knuckleheads hanging on our backsides. does't anyone in your lilly white offices have just a little common sense? . shame on all of you!! you probably make a nice salary, and GOD FORBID you disrupt that !!!

I have also spent my entire

I have also spent my entire life in a dry cleaners. We lived in an apartment above my Dad's dry cleaners when I was a child. I worked for my father until I purchased the plant from him 25 yrs ago. Not my self nor any of my employees ( 3 of which have worked 25, 30 & 32 yrs ) here have ever had cancer. I believe the 74 yr old gentleman is correct. The lily white pencil pushers need to have more facts about what they are spouting off about!

Dry Cleaner-now a wet cleaner. I've had three cancers.

I'm Steve Berglund and I used a perc transfer machine starting in 1965. I've had colon cancer, bladder cancer and base of tongue cancer. It is dificult to say exactly what causes cancer. I'm told drinking and smoking raises your ability to get cancer in your throat area by 100 times-but the other two cancers I had could easily be related to Perc.

Why would a person choose another "Solvent" when "Wet Cleaning" will do 99% of everything. I have High End clientele in a High End shopping center and I process everything, silks, rayons, casmeres and fine wools with Wascomat equipment and Seitz products.

The cost of this new equipment to eliminate Perc and eliminate using another "Solvent" is less than a good used car. Please take a look at it.

I wish all of you the very best.
Steve Berglund-Fresno California

Perc, as far as I can tell,

Perc, as far as I can tell, is the safest and most economical cleaning solvent other then hydrocarbon and wet cleaning. Unfortunatly the alternatives, which furtune 500 companys are now backing to be "green", are forms of formaldehyde, also a know carcinogen. Why did it take the EPA this long to say perc is a know carcinogen? Iroinic or just a coincidence? I have been in and out of dry cleaning establishments my entire life, as my father has, and we both agree there are more healthy people working around perc then most industries.

If you beleive that fortune

If you beleive that fortune 500 companines had anything to do with EPA's new designation then you have had your head in the perc drum too long.


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