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Dry Cleaning Facilities Learn about Wet Cleaning Technology to Reduce the Use of Perchlorethylene

Lowell, MA, October 9, 2007--The Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell is sponsoring a professional wet cleaning demonstration event to encourage dry cleaning facilities to make the switch from perchlorethylene (PCE) to a safer alternative.

The improved professional wet cleaning technology will be demonstrated to dry cleaners at the Wannalancit Mill Building and the Lowell National Historic Park Maintenance Facility on Sunday, October 14, 2007, Noon-4PM.

In Massachusetts, the 550 dry cleaning facilities that report under the Department of Protection's (DEP) Environmental Results Program use more than 970,000 pounds of PCE, resulting in the generation of 600,000 pounds of hazardous waste per year.

As noted in the TURI "Five Chemicals Study" that was commissioned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2006, long-term exposure to PCE may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system damage. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists PCE as a probable human carcinogen.

Regulatory Drivers
The Environmental Protection Agency has tightened rules for dry cleaning facilities that are located in buildings where people live. These facilities must stop using the chemical by 2020.

The Massachusetts DEP Environmental Results Program oversees perchlorethylene use in the dry cleaning industry. They require dry cleaners to conduct an annual self-certification of compliance to increase accountability.

California is the first state to ban the use of PCE from dry cleaning. This ban is being implemented in a phased approach beginning next year by preventing the purchase of dry cleaning machines that use the chemical solvent. All PCE machines that are more than 15 years old must be decommissioned by 2010. The California phase out will be completed by 2023.

Event Details
The event, co-sponsored with the National Fabricare Association, begins at Noon on Sunday October 14th at the Wannalancit Mill Building. Cleaners from California who have made the switch to 100% wet cleaning will be on hand to describe the benefits of the technology, including energy, waste disposal, and permitting savings, as well as the health and safety of workers and customers. NSTAR and National Grid will speak about their small business rebate programs, and TURI will introduce demonstration site grant funding.

Between 1PM-4PM, the equipment demonstration will take place at the Lowell National Historic Park Maintenance Facility. A washer and dryer, and tensioners that stretch the clothing, will be on hand. Test loads will be run on a silk wedding dress, wool suits, and other garments.

About the Toxics Use Reduction Institute

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell provides the resources and tools to help Massachusetts companies and communities make the Commonwealth a safer place to live and work. Established by the State's Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989, TURI provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services, and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals at the source while enhancing the economic competitiveness of businesses.