The chemicals involved in dry cleaning are so harmful that you shouldn’t hang your freshly dry cleaned clothing in your bedroom, let alone allow it to touch your skin.
Perchloroethylene (perc), a solvent and volatile organic compound (VOC), is the strong-smelling chemical used at most traditional dry cleaners. Though very effective for removing odors and stains, perc is not removed from the clothing during the washing process—it stays in the fabric and lingers for days or even weeks. The toxins are not only absorbed through your skin when you wear dry cleaned clothes, but if you hang the clothing in your bedroom you are breathing in perc vapors eight hours a night as you sleep.
Because perc is a central nervous system depressant, short-term exposures at low concentrations have been found to cause behavioral changes, impairment of coordination, headache, and drowsiness in some. Chronic inhalation can cause cognitive and motor skill dysfunction, cardiac arrhythmia, and liver and kidney damage.1 Perc vapors, once inhaled and absorbed into the blood, are able to cross the placental barrier of expectant mothers and infiltrate the breast milk of nursing mothers.2
The State of California listed perc as a known carcinogen in 1988 and has more recently mandated that its use will be phased-out for commercial dry-cleaning by 2023. Don’t wait for government regulation to catch up with the dangers of perc while you and your family are wearing shirts and jackets soaked in toxins.
1 “Tetrachloroethylene (Perchloroethylene),” Technology Transfer NetworkAir Toxics Web Site, http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/tet-ethy.html (accessed January 2, 2010).
2 “Perchloroethylene,” Toxics Use Reduction Institute 2009, http://www.turi.org/library/turi_publications/... (accessed December 21, 2009).