EPA proposes 10-year phaseout of PCE in dry cleaning

A phase-out on most uses of perchloroethylene (PCE), a chemical known to cause serious health risks such as neurotoxicity and cancer, is proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to protect public health — particularly in the dry cleaning business.

PCE is a solvent widely used as brake cleaners and adhesives in commercial applications in dry cleaning, as well as in many industrial settings.

The rule proposes to continue to allow the industrial and commercial use of PCE in petrochemical manufacturing — the manufacture of coatings for aircraft skins and vapor degreasing with PCE to make aerospace parts and engines — as examples of other uses not proposed for prohibition.

The EPA said in its announcement on June 8 that PCE presents unreasonable risk to health, driven by risks associated with exposure to the chemical by workers, occupational non-users who are nearby but not in direct contact with this chemical, consumers, and those in close proximity to a consumer use.

For most of the uses of PCE that the EPA proposes to prohibit, the EPA’s analysis has found that alternative products with similar costs and efficacy to PCE are reasonably available.