Drying cleaning employers have the obligation to identify and protect their employees from various chemical risks. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a risk assessment report on a cleaning chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE), which may cause health problems in workers who work in dry cleaning shops. To limit exposure to TCE and other chemicals, employers should invest in ambient air cleaners that will extract air pollutants and replace them with clean air to enhance worker health and productivity.
In the EPA’s risk assessment, the agency said there are health concerns related to cancer from exposure to TCE. About 300,000 employees and occupational bystanders may be at risk for TCE exposure at dry cleaning shops as these workplaces may use TCE for commercial vapor degreasing and spot cleaning, according to the EPA. Of the two types of exposure, contact with commercial degreasers may put workers more at risk for developing cancer than when using the chemical for spot cleaning.
Avoid health effects of TCE exposure with air cleaners
There are numerous health effects associated with TCE exposure, which include chronic diseases. Chemicals in dry cleaning businesses can be absorbed through the skin, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Workers who have prolonged exposure to this chemical may have problems with their livers, kidneys and reproductive systems.
With the report revealing the health effects of TCE, the EPA recommends improving regulations for toxic chemicals.
“EPA calls on Congress to enact legislation that strengthens our current federal toxics law,” Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said in a statement. “Until that time, we are using the best available science to assess and address chemical risks of TCE that now show that it may harm human health and the environment.”
Employers that want to guard their workers against the chronic health effects of TCE may want to invest to ambient air cleaners that mount onto the ceiling. This air purifying equipment works by removing air impurities and then exhausting the clean air out into the workplace.
Air purification solutions could help extract other chemicals and solvents used in dry cleaning operations. According to OSHA, perchloroethylene (PERC) may cause cancer as well as cognitive problems if workers are exposed.
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