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Ace Cleaners of North Andover Opens New Environmentally-Friendly Shop

“Wet” Dry-Cleaning Technologies Create Healthier Work Place, Neighborhood

Jan. 27, 2011, Lowell, Mass. – ACE Cleaners of North Andover recently converted its dry cleaning process from using perchloroethylene (perc) to environmentally-friendly technologies with the help of a $17,000 grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell.

The grant partially funded the purchase and installation of professional “wet” dry-cleaning equipment that has been proven to be an effective and safer replacement to perc, a probable human carcinogen. The new technologies allow for “dry-clean-only” clothes to be washed with water and detergents in computer-controlled machines and then finished with tensioning and pressing equipment.

“ACE Cleaners took the lead and invested in new, safer equipment that is healthier for workers, the environment and customers,” said Joy Onasch, TURI community program manager. “We are making slow and steady progress across the state moving dry cleaners away from using perc which is linked to cancer.”

ACE Cleaners, a family-owned business that has leased space at 66 Peters Street in the North Andover Plaza for five years, has been using the new equipment for a few months and says that the clothes are clean, fresh and not emitting any odors. The owners – Yong and Angela Kim – are already realizing the health benefits of using a water-based solution.

“Before this change, when I would open the door to work there was a strong smell and because I have asthma, I would cough and choke,” said Yong Kim. “Now when I get to work, everything smells clean and fresh. Not only does the technology do a great job of cleaning the clothes, it is better for the health of my customers and workers.”

Environmental Problem With a Silver Lining

ACE Cleaners has been leasing the space in the North Andover Plaza for five years but the same location has housed a dry cleaning facility since 1970. Last summer, the landlord North Andover Ventures Limited Partnership hired Morgan Environmental of Manchester, Mass. to remove chemicals in the soil. The report filed with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection states “due to the detection of natural breakdown products (trichloroethene, cis 1,2-dichloroethene, and vinyl chloride) in groundwater at the site, it is assumed that the release is historical.”

“Even though the contamination of the soil by other dry cleaners over the years was the driver for ACE Cleaners to find a safer alternative to perc, the company could have chosen to move to another site and continue using perc, but instead Mr. and Mrs. Kim did the right thing by investing in a cleaner technology,” said Onasch. “Sometimes environmental problems can have a silver lining especially if grants are available to ease the financial burden which is what happened in this case.”

Upcoming Demonstrations of Wet Cleaning Technology

Part of the requirement of the TURI grant is for ACE Cleaners to demonstrate to other dry cleaners how the technology works to encourage them to no longer use perc. The demonstrations will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 24, April 7, April 21 and May 19 at 66 Peters Street in North Andover. Contact Joy Onasch for more information, 978-934-4343.