Side Effects of Dry Cleaning Chemicals – Dangerous Substances

Have you ever wonder the daily routine that we do everyday, and what chemicals that we use in everyday life. We have become addicted to using chemical products without realizing the many harmful effects of chemicals for living things. Take for example for cleaning the house, our kitchen and clothes. Although there are safe chemicals for cleaning, how much do we really know it?

Washing clothes can be as simple as washing with water or using detergent. Cleaning with an environmentally-friendly with a biodegradable material that dissolves in water is considered safe for living things and the environment. However, it still results in some minor effect and not entirely healthy. Moreover, the modern demand for getting things done fast has exceeded the cleaning method using more chemicals to make thing cleaner and faster.

Dry Cleaning Chemicals

There are several chemicals in doing dry cleaning that is very harmful to living things. That is why workers in the laundry industry need to understand the hazard of chemicals that they are using. Individuals that work with a company that used harmful chemicals are among the first that shows symptoms of side effect. Therefore, they need to be careful because they come into frequent contact with a harsh chemical in the industry. Dangerous chemicals in dry cleaning industry include

  • Perchloroethylene, a non-flammable, colorless, frequently used in dry cleaning applications. It is often referred to as PERC.
  • Tetrachloroethylene, another chemical based on PERC
  • Naphtha (Petroleum)
  • Isoparaffinic Hydrocarbon, a fluid chemical for dry cleaning.

These chemicals have side effects in the dry cleaning process. Moreover, these chemicals in the past work best to clean stains. Nowadays, more laundry and dry cleaning services enhance their portion which results to some problematic side effects. Therefore, chemically they react differently based on their percentage.

Side effects of dry cleaning chemicals

Perchloroethylene is a common chemical for the dry cleaning process. There are already many countries band this chemical globally. According to regulatory most country guidelines, it is ban and labels very hazardous. It has several dangerous side effects that people need to be aware of, among them are

1. Combustible

This chemical is actually non-flammable. However, after it releases vapors that readily form flammable mixtures. The vapor then accumulation and has the potential to flash and/or explode if ignited.  Matter can worsen if it accumulates static charges which may can an ignition.

2. Skin problem

Repeated exposure to dangerous dry cleaning chemicals may cause skin dryness or crack. Therefore, individuals working with dangerous chemicals often use masks and gloves to prevent direct contact.   Moreover, it is another reason not to play around with chemical in a chemical lab.

3. Internal Damages

There is safety measure when lab probit chemical to be store away from food. Any contamination can cause extreme health problem even death. If accidentally swallowed, it surely causes a serious health problem. It can result in lung damage, respiration issues, and central nervous system dysfunction.

4. Respiration

In labs, people will wear a mask as a precaution for inhaling chemicals. Even a safe chemical can be dangerous when it is inhaled. It may have side effects that cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. First exposure takes time before it develops to a severe health condition. Firstly, the body will experience several symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or unconsciousness. if the symptoms persist it can lead to more dangerous health conditions. 

5. Cancer

Perc has cancer-causing issues that many dry cleaning companies are not aware of. It has toxic effects on the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, respiratory system, eyes and skin, and also to the reproduction and development.

6. Depression

Short-term inhalation of tetrachloroethylene at very high levels can lead to depression of the central nervous system. Symptoms that show signs of problems in the internal brain such as drowsiness, dizziness, giddiness, headache, nausea, loss of coordination, confusion, and unconsciousness.

if it is not handled properly, or if the exposure continues to occur. It can lead to deep depression. it is not a common effect of chemicals but it does exist. The long process to have the proper diagnose often result in a severe condition causing it more difficult to treat. Chronic inhalation exposure to PERC based on studies shows sign the may have contributed to the impaired cognitive and motor neurobehavioral functioning.

7. Reproductive issues

This is a sensitive matter that people don’t talk about openly. Therefore, it takes a long time even years before any reproductive problems can link to any chemicals from the dry cleaning process. Chemicals such as PERC has an effect on adverse reproductive problems. Among them are menstrual disorders, miscarriages, and fertility issues.

It is important to avoid cleaning chemicals during pregnancy. Moreover, if a pregnant woman exposes to this chemical, it can cause maternal bloodstream crosses the placental barrier to reach the fetal bloodstream and concentrates in breast milk. In addition, if an infant breastfeeds a mother that come in contact with PERC, then there would be PERC in mother’s milk. 

8. Carcinogen

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies PERC as a probable human carcinogen cause. There is evidence for consistently positive associations between exposure to PERC to numerous disease. It is said to cause esophageal and cervical cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in its evaluation of the human cancer studies.

There are significant prove that higher rates of mortality due to cancer of the esophagus and cervix condition among workers at dry cleaning establishments. Therefore, it is the ultimate risks that a human can take from these dangerous dry cleaning chemicals.

What Can You Do?

  • Wear a respirator to maintain adequate airborne concentrations of the chemical to protect worker health.
  • Wear chemical-resistant gloves and clothing and use protective safety glasses with side shields.
  • perform good personal hygiene after handling the material and before eating.
  • Routinely wash work clothes and protective equipment from any contaminants.
  • Ask your dry cleaning service if they use PERC in their process and advice to change chemicals.

PERC is the most common chemical in dry cleaning which has various side effects to serious health risks. It poses treat to dry cleaning workers that work with these substances. Regular exposure in term of vapor, inhale, swallow or just a skin contact can result in various dangerous problems. Over time, exposure may cause loss of coordination, memory loss and delayed reaction times and other types of cancer.

Although most PERC-related health problems happen mostly from dry cleaning activities. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) allow PERC usage. Therefore, employers should adhere to these regulations in order to protect their workers. Part of coping with these regulations is having the right protective gear on hand.