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First Dedicated Wet Cleaner in Massachusetts Opens Doors

Bellingham Dry Cleaning Facility Replaces Toxic Substance Perchloroethylene with New and Safer Technology

Lowell, MA, January 29, 2009 -- A Bellingham dry cleaner is taking a greener approach to doing business.

Silver Hanger Cleaners has removed its perchloroethylene (perc) machine in favor of equipment that produces less waste and uses a process considered safer for workers and consumers. The move, completed recently, makes the business the first dedicated professional "wet cleaner" in Massachusetts. The cost of the conversion was supplemented with a grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell.

The term "wet cleaning" may seem counterintuitive but new and improved technology makes it an effective and safer option than other alternatives on the market. It's also been proven in other states to save money as well as energy, making it a truly green technology.

Last month, the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) Administrative Council designated perchloroethylene (perc) as a higher hazard substance. Long-term exposure to perc may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system damage according to the TURI "Five Chemicals Study" commissioned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2006. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists perc as a probable human carcinogen.

In Massachusetts, 537 dry cleaning facilities reported in 2006 under the Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Results Program that they used more than 780,000 pounds of perc, resulting in the generation of 475,000 pounds of hazardous waste per year.

TURI awarded a $17,000 matching grant in March 2008 to Silver Hanger Cleaners to remove the perc machine and install a wet cleaning system (washer, dryer and tensioning equipment). As part of the grant requirement, Silver Hanger Cleaners will collect utility use, cost and customer satisfaction data as well as conduct demonstrations for other Massachusetts dry cleaners in spring 2009 to encourage them to move away from the harmful chemical solvent.

"I was anxious to get rid of the perc machine because of the health and waste issues but I wanted to replace it with something that I wouldn't find out later caused other problems," says Mark Isabelle, owner of Silver Hanger Cleaners, who re-opened his store located at 7 Mechanic St. just a few days after the conversion. "Wet cleaning was the logical solution for me and I couldn't be happier with the results. It works much better than I imagined, my workers are grateful, and my customers are happy."

"Mark is a leader in every sense of the word and should certainly be saluted for making his neighborhood a safer place to live and work," says TURI Community Program Manager Joy Onasch. "Were're hopeful that as he demonstrates his 'truly green' facility to other dry cleaners, the financial and performance benefits will encourage them to convert."

About Silver Hanger Cleaners, Bellingham, Mass.
Silver Hanger Cleaners provides garment cleaning, alterations, shoe repair, wedding dress service, a VIP drop box, and free pick-up and delivery. The main store is located on 7 Mechanic St. in Bellingham and a retail drop-off is located at 32 Hastings Street, No. 9, in Mendon. For more information, visit Silver Hanger Cleaners web site at http://www.silverhanger.us/.