Able to dissolve most organic materials, perchloroethylene (PCE or Perc) is the most widely used dry cleaning solvent in Massachusetts and nationally.
Its other major uses are as a metal degreaser, a chemical intermediate and an ingredient in consumer products, such as automotive aerosol parts cleaners and degreasers. PCE is reported to be the chemical most widely found in groundwater contamination at Superfund sites. In 2009, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts designated Perc to be a "Higher Hazard Substance" and requires users to report use of over 1000 pounds per year.
TURI Projects Involving Perc
Testing at TURI's laboratory over the years has revealed a number of suitable replacement cleaners and solvents for many of the uses of PCE throughout various industry sectors.
The Massachusetts legislature requested that the Institute conduct a scientific study to assess the availability of technically and economically feasible safer alternatives for five toxic or hazardous chemicals, one of which was PCE.
More recently, the TURI Business grants and demonstration program has supported adoption of a safer alternative in Dry Cleaning. Known as "Professional Wet Cleaning", TURI has hosted demonstrations and training events, and has created guidance materials and videos in English and in Korean.
Uses of PCE are as the basic raw material in the manufacture of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC 134a), in dry cleaning, in aerosol products, and in industrial metal cleaning and degreasing.
Overall, Massachusetts has experienced a 73% reduction in the use of PCE since 1990.