Minneapolis bans ‘perc’ in dry cleaning

After helping dry cleaners switch to cleaner processes, Minneapolis bans hazardous chemical

The City of Minneapolis has banned the use of a hazardous chemical in the dry-cleaning industry. Having used its business assistance programs to help dry cleaners throughout Minneapolis switch away from perchloroethylene to solvents safer for employees, neighbors and customers, the City of Minneapolis worked closely with the industry to ban it. This change ensures that no “perc” is allowed in any dry-cleaning facilities in Minneapolis.

Perchloroethylene is the main chemical solvent used in dry cleaning. It may cause cancer and may also damage the kidneys, liver, immune system and blood system, and affect reproduction and fetal development.

The rules and understanding of the chemical have changed since most dry cleaners adopting perc in their operations thought it the safest and best chemical to use at the time. A 2015 City air quality study had detected perchloroethylene above health risk levels in 99 places across the city. Interior air quality sampling inside businesses revealed that perc is a health concern to the workers in these facilities, and perc levels were also elevated in neighborhoods around dry cleaners that used it. The City of Minneapolis helped the last nine dry cleaners in the city using perchloroethylene replace their equipment to eliminate the chemical. In January 2018, Minneapolis became the first perc-free city in the nation.

The City of Minneapolis worked in partnership with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Technical Assistance Program, Environmental Initiative, Tangletown Neighborhood, Windom Neighborhood, East Isles Neighborhood Association, Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, and the Minnesota Cleaners Association to convert all known dry cleaners away from perc.

Expanding the work

For the health of workers and neighbors, Minneapolis is also using a public-private partnership cost-sharing model to drive change in other industries such as nail salons, industrial manufacturing and auto body shops. And beyond working with existing auto body shops, Minneapolis also works with training facilities including Dunwoody and Newgate schools so they have the necessary equipment to train the next generation of paint technicians in cleaner technologies.

Minneapolis is also collaborating with other government agencies including Ramsey County and Washington County to help drive these healthy changes in their jurisdictions through similar models.

The funds for the business assistance programs used come from pollution control fees that businesses pay to the City. Find more information about the City’s green business cost-sharing programs here.

 

Aug. 22, 2019

Published Aug 22, 2019

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