CHICAGO — In light of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) updated assessment that lists perchloroethylene (perc) as a “likely human carcinogen,” 71.6% of respondents to this month’s AmericanDrycleaner.com Wire survey believe the solvent will no longer be a viable option for the average operator within 10 years. Of that group, 37.5% believe perc has another 10 years while 34.1% say it’s only five years.
Approximately 13% give perc another 20 years, while equal shares of 8% peg its time remaining as a viable solvent option as either 15 years or “indefinitely.”
Should the EPA assessment create stricter regulation of perc or lead to a phase-out, it stands to have a major impact on the drycleaning industry. Perc is generally considered the most-used solvent among U.S. dry cleaners.
Among respondents to this month’s survey, 69.9% say they use perc. Other solvents used by respondents include high-flashpoint hydrocarbon (23.7%), GreenEarth (D5 silicon) (6.5%), liquid CO2 (2.2%), Solvair (1.1%), and DrySolv (n-Propyl Bromide) (1.1%).
Cleaners also utilize “other” solvents not on the list provided within the survey, including SolvonK4, low-flashpoint hydrocarbon and water (wet cleaning).
As one might expect, survey respondents who use perc generally reacted unfavorably to the EPA’s findings:
While the Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.
Subscribers to Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each month. All dry cleaners are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.
To sign up for the Wire, click the “Subscriptions” button at the top right-hand corner of this page and follow the instructions.