In December 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final risk determination for Perchloroethylene (Perc). Since the 1970s, Perc has been one of the most studied and reviewed man-made chemicals with regard to human and environmental risk associated with its use. Over the years, perc drycleaners have seen increased scrutiny with its use, including phase outs of older equipment technologies, additional reporting requirements and increased risk management controls.
The updated risk evaluation amended by EPA under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) looks to further reduce the use or eliminate perc as a whole rather than modify its individual use or conditions. DLI has provided both verbal and written comments to EPA to keep the agency from banning Perc while suggesting increased monitoring and testing requirements to protect worker exposure and the environment. DLI made it clear to EPA that the drycleaning industry represents the smallest of small businesses in the country while at the same time trying to cope with aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic which contributed to the loss of nearly one-third of the industry. DLI further believes a combination of management practices and testing will further mitigate the threat of human and environmental exposures.
EPA is currently reviewing the risk assessment and will likely propose a rule this summer to regulate perc so it no longer presents an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment. This rule could be released sometime this summer and could include anything from a complete perc ban, a perc ban with a delayed sunset provision or increased management and control options.
On the state level, California and Minnesota have already banned perc use and legislation has been proposed to ban its use in Michigan and Oregon. While many cleaners across the country have moved to alternative technologies, DLI’s best guess is that 40-50% of all cleaners in the country still use perc. DLI will update members as soon as the proposed perc rule is released.