The Dangers of Perchloroethylene and Reasons to Find Greener Alternatives

Widely used as a solvent in dry cleaning, Perchloroethylene—or PERC—is commonly found in soil, air, and water as a contaminant. As of 2016, nearly 30,000 dry cleaner services in the United States still use the chemical in dry cleaning.

The adverse health effects of PERC are known far and wide, and can occur due to skin contact or breathing the chemical in. The primary reason why PERC is considered dangerous is that it’s carcinogenic to humans.

Health Problems Caused by PERC

PERC vapors are released during the dry cleaning process; these can enter the body by inhalation. The damage these vapors do can be long-term or short-term; the severity of the damage depends on the duration, frequency, and amount of exposure to it, as well as the method of exposure. Here are five reasons to replace PERC with organic dry cleaning solvents:

  • PERC is extremely toxic to the human nervous system and causes dizziness, mild memory loss, and incoordination
  • Continual breathing of PERC laced air can render a person unconscious
  • PERC may also affect pregnant women and their unborn children
  • It can cause blisters and redness of the skin after dermal contact
  • Studies conducted on animals have shown that PERC causes lung, kidney, and liver damage, but conclusive proof hasn’t been found yet

What Happens When PERC Enters the Atmosphere?

As PERC is produced and used, it contaminates air, water, and land, leaving a negative impact on ecosystems, soil fertility, and animal habitats. PERC that’s released into the air and soil can also exacerbate health problems for those living in already polluted areas.

Sources of PERC Exposure

The staff and employees at dry cleaners are at heightened risk of all of these issues. Exposure can happen during a number of activities, such as:

  • While loading and removing clothes from the machine
  • While transferring solvent-laden clothes from the dry cleaning station to the dryer machine
  • While changing the solvent filter and other maintenance operations
  • During handling and disposal of waste


Fugitive emissions can also cause PERC exposure; this largely happens when a pipe or machine leak occurs.

At New York Organic Dry Cleaners, we care about the environment and your health. This is why we have committed to organic dry cleaning solutions that are green and pro-environment.

Our organic products are manufactured with advanced techniques and produce effective results. For more information, give us a call at718-459-7770 or send us a message here.