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California ban on dry-cleaning chemical perc replaces federal rule

DrycleanerThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that a California regulation that bans the use of the chemical perchloroethylene by dry-cleaning businesses would replace a less stringent federal rule in most parts of the state.

In 2007, the California Air Resources Board adopted the Airborne Toxic Control Measure to phase out dry cleaners' use of perchloroethylene, or perc, by 2023. The 1990 federal Clean Air Act requires dry cleaners only to limit, rather than eliminate, perc emissions.

Perc is a liquid solvent that is considered a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act and was identified by the California Air Resources Board as a toxic air contaminant one year later. Studies have also identified perc as a possible human carcinogen that can cause liver and kidney damage in rodents.

"The state rule will substitute for the federal rule, so there isn't dual regulation," said Mae Wang of the U.S. EPA's Air Standards Delegation. "Now California's state rule will be the rule that is enforceable by the federal EPA in California."

The EPA's approval of the California regulation, announced Monday, applies throughout the state except for incorporated cities within the four counties regulated by the South Coast Air Quality Managment District, which includes Los Angeles County. The AQMD has a perc ban similar to the one adopted by the state and is applying for its own EPA approval.

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: An organic dry cleaner in Tours, France. Credit: Alain Jocard / AFP/Getty Images

 
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