For Immediate Release - October 05, 2012

Environmental Agencies Adopt Plan to Reduce Toxic Chemical Use by Dry Cleaners Across Commonwealth

The Toxics Use Reduction Administrative Council unanimously adopted the resolution to address the use of the chemical perchloroethylene.

BOSTON – State environmental officials today announced adoption of a plan by the Toxic Use Reduction Act (TURA) program offices designed to reduce the use of toxic solvents by dry cleaners. The Toxics Use Reduction Administrative Council unanimously adopted the resolution to address the use of the chemical perchloroethylene.

Under the plan, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will revise its Environmental Results Program (ERP) that now covers all dry cleaners using perchloroethylene, using a voluntary approach, at first, to bring about significant reductions in the use of the chemical (also known as “perc”). If a voluntary approach does not bring about the required reductions within four years, MassDEP will propose mandatory rules that promote the reductions.

“This plan is a big step forward in our efforts to minimize the use of toxic solvents by dry cleaners in the Commonwealth,” said Undersecretary for the Environment Philip Griffiths. “There are safer alternatives that we need to encourage dry cleaners to use, to ensure the safety of their workers, and the protection of our environment.”

Under the federal Clean Air Act, MassDEP has the authority to regulate the dry cleaning industry. Under MassDEP’s innovative ERP, dry cleaners using perc must submit annually a certification that they are in compliance with all environmental regulations.

The Administrative Council’s resolution outlines the changes that MassDEP plans to make to the annual compliance certification forms, and the changes to the certification program workbook, which is available to dry cleaners as a resource document for completing the certifications. The resolution also describes the voluntary “comparative analysis” that assists dry cleaners in understanding and comparing the benefits and costs, including risks, of alternatives to perc. The plan also outlines a process by which goals for perchloroethylene use will be set to encourage an accelerated rate of reductions, and the voluntary comparative analysis will become mandatory if the goals are not met.

“MassDEP enthusiastically supports the voluntary approach adopted by the TURA Council to build on our successful Environmental Results Program for dry cleaners,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “By providing the expanded information and options analysis tools, this program will allow all dry cleaners to make the best environmental and business decisions for them as they consider their future professional cleaning options.”

As part of the new plan, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), based at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and the state Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA) will continue to provide education and assistance to the industry, which, in recent years, has focused on safer alternatives that have been demonstrated to be both technically and economically viable. Long-standing collaboration with industry trade associations has already resulted in substantial perc reductions.

Perchlorotheylene was designated by the TURA Administrative Council as a Higher Hazard Substance (HHS) in 2008, following a TURA Science Advisory Board recommendation that was based on a review of information that confirmed its toxicity.

OTA consulted with MassDEP, TURI, industry trade associations and other stakeholders, individual dry cleaners, environmental and public health experts, and the TURA Advisory Council, and recommended that modifications be made to MassDEP’s ERP and, if necessary, state air regulations. OTA found that the voluntary approach would be more efficient for both the state and the dry cleaner industry, and should achieve the required results with a lower economic impact on the industry.

Perchloroethylene has serious consequences for public health and the environment when it is spilled or released during the dry cleaning process, and the chemical ends up contaminating groundwater. Perc can migrate and later volatilize, with the vapors rising up through the soil and causing serious air quality issues in the lower floors of buildings.

The Toxics Use Reduction program has identified several other less toxic options to perc for dry cleaners to consider. These alternatives include high flashpoint hydrocarbons, professional wet-cleaning, acetyls, propylene glycol ethers, and siloxanes. More information on these alternatives is available on a fact sheet developed by TURI: http://tinyurl.com/8kyogo8

Information on MassDEP’s ERP for dry cleaners is available here: 

BOSTON – State environmental officials today announced adoption of a plan by the Toxic Use Reduction Act (TURA) program offices designed to reduce the use of toxic solvents by dry cleaners. The Toxics Use Reduction Administrative Council unanimously adopted the resolution to address the use of the chemical perchloroethylene.

Under the plan, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) will revise its Environmental Results Program (ERP) that now covers all dry cleaners using perchloroethylene, using a voluntary approach, at first, to bring about significant reductions in the use of the chemical (also known as “perc”). If a voluntary approach does not bring about the required reductions within four years, MassDEP will propose mandatory rules that promote the reductions.

“This plan is a big step forward in our efforts to minimize the use of toxic solvents by dry cleaners in the Commonwealth,” said Undersecretary for the Environment Philip Griffiths. “There are safer alternatives that we need to encourage dry cleaners to use, to ensure the safety of their workers, and the protection of our environment.”

Under the federal Clean Air Act, MassDEP has the authority to regulate the dry cleaning industry. Under MassDEP’s innovative ERP, dry cleaners using perc must submit annually a certification that they are in compliance with all environmental regulations.

The Administrative Council’s resolution outlines the changes that MassDEP plans to make to the annual compliance certification forms, and the changes to the certification program workbook, which is available to dry cleaners as a resource document for completing the certifications. The resolution also describes the voluntary “comparative analysis” that assists dry cleaners in understanding and comparing the benefits and costs, including risks, of alternatives to perc. The plan also outlines a process by which goals for perchloroethylene use will be set to encourage an accelerated rate of reductions, and the voluntary comparative analysis will become mandatory if the goals are not met.

“MassDEP enthusiastically supports the voluntary approach adopted by the TURA Council to build on our successful Environmental Results Program for dry cleaners,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “By providing the expanded information and options analysis tools, this program will allow all dry cleaners to make the best environmental and business decisions for them as they consider their future professional cleaning options.”

As part of the new plan, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), based at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and the state Office of Technical Assistance and Technology (OTA) will continue to provide education and assistance to the industry, which, in recent years, has focused on safer alternatives that have been demonstrated to be both technically and economically viable. Long-standing collaboration with industry trade associations has already resulted in substantial perc reductions.

Perchlorotheylene was designated by the TURA Administrative Council as a Higher Hazard Substance (HHS) in 2008, following a TURA Science Advisory Board recommendation that was based on a review of information that confirmed its toxicity.

OTA consulted with MassDEP, TURI, industry trade associations and other stakeholders, individual dry cleaners, environmental and public health experts, and the TURA Advisory Council, and recommended that modifications be made to MassDEP’s ERP and, if necessary, state air regulations. OTA found that the voluntary approach would be more efficient for both the state and the dry cleaner industry, and should achieve the required results with a lower economic impact on the industry.

Perchloroethylene has serious consequences for public health and the environment when it is spilled or released during the dry cleaning process, and the chemical ends up contaminating groundwater. Perc can migrate and later volatilize, with the vapors rising up through the soil and causing serious air quality issues in the lower floors of buildings.

The Toxics Use Reduction program has identified several other less toxic options to perc for dry cleaners to consider. These alternatives include high flashpoint hydrocarbons, professional wet-cleaning, acetyls, propylene glycol ethers, and siloxanes. 

Information on MassDEP’s ERP for dry cleaners is available here: www.mass.gov/dep/service/online/erpforms.htm#dc