PCE and its relation to clean clothes


PCE (tetrachloroethylene) is a readily volatile substance found as a synthetic raw material of hydro chlorofluorocarbon, a dry cleaning agent. There is no natural source for this substance and is mostly commonly found around dry cleaner businesses. Because it can easily transport in the air, the contaminated air can also be found outside of dry cleaners and nearby businesses. Another common pathway for exposure is by taking fresh dry cleaned clothes to houses and by exhaling PCE-rich air. Although not as likely, PCE can be found at homes in the showers and drinking water that are contaminated. The PCE concentration in common houses are 2 μg/m3 while it is about 260 μg/m3 in dry cleaners. In industries that use heavy amounts of dry cleaning agents can go all the way up to 1 million μg/m3.

For humans, exposure to PCE can cause severe damage to eyes, kidney, liver, lungs, skin, and most importantly central nervous system. PCE affects the CNS by loss of coordination, mood swings, and/or anesthetic effects. Due to its toxic nature to humans, Clean Air Council in Philadelphia had given out rebates to dry cleaner businesses to replace the toxic solvents with healthier alternatives.

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