At the end of February, Environment and Climate Change Canada posted a
notice about its "first-ever
imprisonment" of a dry cleaner under the tetrachloroethylene regulations. For improper
storage and handling practices, the dry-cleaner will face a
four-month conditional sentence in the form of 75 days house arrest
followed by a curfew and an additional 60 hours of community
Tetrachloroethylene, also known as PERC, is a dry-cleaning
solvent and is listed as a toxic substance under CEPA. As
reported on the Environmental Protection Agency's website
Effects resulting from acute (short term) high-level inhalation
exposure of humans to tetrachloroethylene include irritation of the
upper respiratory tract and eyes, kidney dysfunction, and
neurological effects such as reversible mood and behavioral
changes, impairment of coordination, dizziness, headache,
sleepiness, and unconsciousness. The primary effects from chronic
(long term) inhalation exposure are neurological, including
impaired cognitive and motor neurobehavioral performance.
Tetrachloroethylene exposure may also cause adverse effects in the
kidney, liver, immune system and hematologic system, and on
development and reproduction. Studies of people exposed in the
workplace have found associations with several types of cancer
including bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple
myeloma. EPA has classified tetrachloroethylene as likely to
be carcinogenic to humans.
Alternatives to traditional dry-cleaning
operations are now available in many cities. Next time
you've got dry-cleaning to do, consider finding a shop that is
using greener methods.
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