Scientists associated with the New York City Advisory Council on Health Priorities, a new affiliate of the American Council on Science and Health, have objected to recent claims that the perchloroethlyne, or "perc," emissions from cleaning establishments in residential buildings in New York City are a "health hazard." These claims, made by New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, are unfounded and unnecessarily alarming, say the scientists.
According to ACSH President Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, "There is no public health justification for needlessly frightening New York residents or for imposing a ban that would inflict economic disaster on dry-cleaning establishments."
According to the Science Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency, perc "is an example of a chemical for which there is no compelling evidence of human cancer risk." Studies of dry-cleaning workers exposed to perc have not shown increased cancer mortality. The EPA's classification of perc as a possible/probable carcinogen is based strictly on results from animal tests.
The levels of perc measured inside most dry-cleaning establishments are much lower than the levels at which the now well-known acute effects of perc exposure occur. The levels in apartments nearby are lower still. New state regulations scheduled to go into effect in November 1997 will further reduce perc emissions and will also mitigate complaints related to perc odors an aesthetic rather than a health concern.