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Rocketstocks Member Level  Monday, 01/07/08 08:46:56 PM
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New Types of Dry Cleaning That Are Better for the Environment and Safer for You

Darn that stain Uncle Harry got on your best sweater when he spilled his home-brewed honey-rutabaga beer on you at the family's holiday get-together. Curse the lingering scent of "Eau de Midnight Pasture" perfume that Grandma Jean's hug left on your sport coat. Well, off to the cleaners!

There are over 30,000 dry cleaning facilities for you to choose from in the United States, but 95 percent of them use the toxic chemical perchloroethylene (perc) as the primary cleaning solvent. Exposure to perc is a significant risk to the workers who dry clean the clothes, and it's also a health risk to you and the loved ones who share your home. Once you get the dry-cleaned clothes home, they continue to off-gas perc into the air in your abode.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences states that: "Short-term exposure to PERC can cause adverse health effects on the nervous system that include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, sweating, incoordination, and unconsciousness. Long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage." The International Association for Research on Cancer classifies perc as a probable carcinogen.

Fortunately, there are healthier (and greener) dry-cleaning alternatives. Here they are:

* Wet Cleaning — This is a system that uses biodegradable soap and water. Computer-controlled dryers and stretching machines ensure that the fabric retains its natural size and shape. Wet cleaning can purportedly clean 99.9% of "dry clean only" garments safely, including leather; suede; most tailored woolens, silks and rayons. (Neckties seem to be the one exception.)
* Silicone and Liquid CO2 Solvents — Relatively new approaches to dry cleaning have been developed based on both liquid carbon dioxide (usually obtained as a recycled byproduct of other industrial processes) and silicone. Dry cleaners using these solvents are currently few in number.
* Alternative Petroleum Solvents — This is more like standard dry cleaning, but the processes use alternative hydrocarbon solvents such as Exxon D-2000 or Chevron-Phillips' EcoSolv. Members of the Grinning Planet team have used dry cleaners that employ both solvents and the results were excellent.

My posting contains many opinions. So please do your own research and validation.

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