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Industries in the Personal and Laundry Services subsector group establishments provide personal and laundry services to individuals, households, and businesses. Laundry and dry cleaning workers clean cloth garments, linens, draperies, blankets, and other articles. They also may clean leather, suede, furs, and rugs.
Laundries and dry cleaning establishments are often hot and noisy. Employees also may be exposed to harsh solvents, but newer environmentally friendly and less toxic cleaning solvents are improving the work environment in these establishments.
Dry cleaning process hazards include chemical, fire, and ergonomics. Exposure to hazardous chemicals commonly used in dry cleaning shops may occur through skin absorption, eye contact, or inhalation of the vapors. Perchloroethylene (PERC), a potential human carcinogen, is the most commonly used dry cleaning solvent. Symptoms associated with exposure include: depression of the central nervous system; damage to the liver and kidneys; impaired memory; confusion; dizziness; headache; drowsiness; and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Repeated dermal exposure may result in dermatitis.
Most business sectors are affected by a number of major environmental statutes and regulations. However, the nature and scope of activities can vary across facilities in a sector.
Depending on the materials and activities at a facility, dry cleaning operations may adversely affect air, water, and land in several ways:
The dry cleaning industry is becoming increasingly regulated at the federal, state, and local levels. Some of the regulations are directed specifically at dry cleaners such as the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Perchloroethylene Dry Cleaning. Other regulations are more general but also likely affect a significant part of the industry, such as standards on underground tank storage.
Dry cleaners or their landlords may be held joint and severally liable for perchloroethylene contamination of the site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund). The contamination may occur by having PCE containing waste water leak through sewer pipes or by leaks of PCE during normal operation.
Dry cleaners who generate 220 pounds or more of perchloroethylene solid wastes (hazardous waste code D039) such as still bottoms, cartridge filters, and filter muck each month are regulated under hazardous waste rules and must dispose of their wastes at a licensed hazardous waste facility. The slightly contaminated waste water generated by dry cleaners from various sources is considered hazardous waste because it was derived from an F002 waste. The toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TC) cutoff for perchloroethylene is 0.7 ppm. Typical separator water contains about 150 ppm and is therefore considered hazardous because it exceeds the TC level.
Dry cleaning facilities that store either petroleum or perchloroethylene in an underground storage tank are subject to underground storage tank regulations which require that the tank must be protected from corrosion, be equipped with devices that prevent spills and overfills, and must have a leak detection method that provides monitoring for leaks at least every 30 days (40 CFR 265.190-196).
Discharges to a POTW: Facilities discharging wastewater to a sewer are often subject to restrictions required under the Clean Water Act. These restrictions are established by the local sewerage authority to prevent significant interference with the treatment facility or pass-through of pollutants not removed by treatment (40 CFR Part 125). The specific requirements include: notifying the POTW of discharges that could cause problems at the POTW, monitoring and record keeping as established by the POTW and a one-time notice of the discharge of hazardous waste.