We provide extraordinary care for fine
garments & household textiles
In February 2012, after almost 25 years of study, the
Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") has finally classified
perchloroethylene, aka perc or PCE, as a "likely human
By way of background, perc, a chlorinated solvent, is the most
common drycleaning solvent in use today. Used by approximately 90%
of the 26,000 cleaners in the USA, perc (brand name: Dowper from
Dow Chemical and PerSec by Occidental Chemical) is a relatively
aggressive solvent valued by cleaners for its grease-cutting
In recent years, perc has been attacked by governmental
agencies, scientific bodies and environmentalists as a likely human
carcinogen as well as a ground water and air pollutant. Perc has
been scheduled for phase out in California by the year 2023. By
contrast, advocates for perc have argued that perc, used in
accordance with existing environmental laws and regulations, is
The debate over perc has been on-going and contentious on both
sides of the debate.
That 25 year old debate is, now, finally over.
While the EPA does not believe that wearing clothing dry cleaned
in perc poses an "immediate health risk to humans", their
assessment provides, for the first time, estimates for both cancer
and non-cancer effects associated with exposure to perc over a
For some states, however, the EPA's standards for exposure to
perc are still too high. California, for example, has determined
that perc is far more hazardous to humans and to the environment
than the EPA's exposure limits suggest.
The EPA's final assessment has sent both the manufacturers of
perc as well as dry cleaners who use perc scampering to put their
best spin on the matter.
The Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance, which represents
companies that make perc, says that it is "pleased that the EPA has
completed the review and removed some of the uncertainties related
to evaluating human health exposures to the solvent."
Really? That's like a criminal defense attorney, whose client
had been convicted of a triple murder, welcoming a verdict of death
on the basis that the verdict removes some of the future
uncertainties for his client.
Dry cleaners are also looking to put the brightest shade of
lipstick on their pig.
One Scottsdale, Arizona dry cleaner, for example, recently
blogged that "we are aware of the environmental concerns (about
perc) and in an attempt to play our part in being eco-friendly, we
are currently researching other alternatives available that
will deliver the same results." (emphasis added)
But in a candid admission that they have no real intent to stop
using perc, they add that "we are also considering dedicated
machines and better waste handling technology that will
make perc safe to use." (emphasis added)
At RAVE FabriCARE, we're not "researching other alternatives" to
perc. Fact is, we recognized the writing on the wall ELEVEN YEARS
In July 2001, we converted our entire dry cleaning operation
from toxic, environmentally hazardous, dye-stripping perc to
siloxane, a dry cleaning fluid used by fewer than 3% of all
cleaners (brand name: Green Earth from General Electric Silicones,
Dow Corning Silicones and Shin Etsu Silicones).
Siloxane is completely odorless and dermatologically friendly.
You can even wash your face and hands in it.
It's extremely gentle. So gentle, in fact, that it's been used
for decades as a base ingredient in many personal care products you
drip into your eye and rub into your skin on a daily basis. Such as
shampoos, antiperspirants, deodorants and moisturizing creams.
It's also chemically inert. Which means that siloxane won't
"bleed" or "fade" your colors.
From an environmental point of view, siloxane is non-toxic. It's
much more than just environmentally friendly. It's biodegradable.
And it's environmentally benign. In the event of a major spill,
siloxane degrades in the environment in a few days into silica and
trace amounts of water and carbon dioxide.
Contrast this to perc. In the event of a major spill, a cleaner
using siloxane will need a bucket and a mop. In the event of a
major spill, a cleaner using perc will need to summon the Hazardous
Materials Unit of your local fire department.
From a health point of view, first aid measures for siloxane
state that no action is required when siloxane comes into contact
with skin or is inhaled or ingested (that's right, you can eat and
digest siloxane and you did so when you last ate french fries at
McDonalds). This differs markedly from the first aid measures for
perc (wash, flush, consult a physician).
So my final question is quite simple: Given the EPA's
determination that perc is a "likely human carcinogen" and
California's prior determination that perc is more hazardous than
the EPA suggests, why would you ever
choose to clean in perc?
How can I help you?
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