California to Phase Out the Use of Perchloroethylene from Dry Cleaning Process
SACRAMENTO –Yesterday, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted regulatory amendments that protect air quality by gradually phasing out the use of a chemical common in dry cleaning. By 2023, dry cleaners will replace perchloroethylene, or perc, a solvent used in dry cleaning, with safer alternatives already available on the market.
"We have safer alternatives to the perc dry cleaning process," said ARB Chairman, Dr. Robert Sawyer, "so the board chose to close the door on this method of cleaning clothes. Today's action safeguards the health of all Californians especially those near these establishments."
Through a phased implementation these amendments will lead the industry to switch to safer technologies. Beginning on January 1, 2008 no new perc-using machines will be installed in California. By July 1, 2010, existing perc machines in co-residential facilities (facilities that share a wall with, or are located in the same building, as a residence), will be removed from service. Perc machines that have been converted to use a primary emission control device or are 15 years or older must also be removed from service by July 1, 2010. The remaining perc machines must be removed from service once they become 15 years old. Fifteen years allows owners to recoup the cost of buying new machines. Finally, the use of perc for dry cleaning operations will be completely banned by January 1, 2023. This phase-out program along with economic incentives will allow the industry to gradually convert to more environmentally sound processes.
The amendments also address manufacturers and distributors of perc. Manufacturers that sell perc for dry cleaning use in California must keep monthly sales records. In addition, they are required to report to ARB their distributors' contact information and any subsequent changes to that information. Perc is listed by the ARB as a toxic air contaminant (TAC); which is California's designation for chemicals that have no exposure level which can be considered safe.
Any solvent distributor that sells perc or recycled perc to California dry cleaning facilities or to another perc distributor is required to report annually to the ARB the amount of perc sold in California. And, if applicable, they must report the contact information of their distributors and subsequent changes to that information.