The control of perchloroethylene (127184) (PERC) exposure in commercial dry cleaning via substitution was reviewed and alternatives to the use of PERC were discussed. Health hazards associated with PERC included central nervous system depression, liver and kidney damage, memory impairment, dermatitis, respiratory irritation, and other symptoms. Potential alternatives to dry cleaning with PERC included wet cleaning, petroleum based dry cleaning, and liquid carbon-dioxide (CO2). In terms of fabric deterioration and shrinkage, wet cleaning was suitable for 30% to 70% of garments normally dry cleaned with PERC. Most machine wet cleaning techniques incorporated specially formulated wet cleaning detergents and spotting agents, increased water extraction before drying, heat and moisture content monitoring during the drying process, and decreased mechanical action during washing. Advantages of wet cleaning included fewer health, safety, and environmental hazards and regulations, easy removal of some soils, and cost efficiency. Disadvantages of wet cleaning included incomplete PERC replacement, fabric deterioration, shrinkage, difficult removal of some soils, contaminated wastewater, high labor intensity, and ergonomic risks. Although petroleum based solvents were flammable, relatively safe solvents were commercially available. The safety of petroleum based dry cleaning machines was increased through vacuum technology, inert gases, and control of machine operating parameters. Advantages of petroleum based dry cleaning included reduced toxicity and inhalation exposure, effective cleaning of all garments, and reduced costs. Disadvantages of petroleum based dry cleaning included fire hazards, bacteria growth, longer drying process, less effective oil and grease removal, and higher insurance premiums. The recently developed liquid CO2 method entailed agitating garments immersed in liquid CO2, then drying the garments via CO2 vaporization. Advantages of liquid CO2 included reduced environmental and exposure hazards, reduced cleaning time, and more effective cleaning of certain garments. Disadvantages of liquid CO2 included safety hazards, stain redeposition, problems removing protein stains, and expense.
NIOSH Hazard Controls, No. HC17, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-155, 4 pages