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Neither Dry Nor Clean.

CONSUMERS WHO DRY-CLEAN their clothes are exposed to a cancer-causing solvent that could be easily replaced with non-toxic alternatives, says Greenpeace.

In a new report, "Out of Fashion: Moving Beyond Toxic Cleaners," the group asks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for tighter regulations on the cancer-causing dry cleaning solvent perchloroethylene (petc). A government study published earlier this year linked the chemical to 266 dry cleaning workers' cancer deaths in four U.S. cities.

Studies show the chemical continues to offgas from clothing after it is taken home. Residents living above dry cleaners can be exposed to elevated levels of the chemical, while 75 to 90 percent of all dry cleaners have caused costly groundwater contamination. The state of Florida alone may face 2,800 perc groundwater cleanups costing an estimated $1.4 billion.

"What is most important at this point is that national, state and local governments provide incentives to dry cleaners and pave the way for new technologies to flourish by removing obstacles to change," says Rick Hind of Greenpeace, who points out that hundreds of cleaners are already perc-free today. Non-toxic alternatives include liquid carbon dioxide cleaning and wet cleaning processes.

A bill pending in the U.S. Congress would give tax credits to cleaners who use these safer cleaning systems.

But the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association which includes perc manufacturers Dow, PPG Industries and Vulcan Chemicals, says perc has been used safely for over 50 years. Dow lobbyists are actively opposing the proposed legislation, which they say should also include tax credits for solvent-reducing technologies.
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Title Annotation:health hazards and pollution of dry cleaning
Author:Cray, Charlie
Publication:Multinational Monitor
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Previous Article:Drugs and Money.
Next Article:Toward a New Washington Consensus.

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