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A summary of best management practices to comply with air quality regulations in the District.
PERC, or percholoroethylene, is one of the most common chemical solvents in the dry cleaning industry. PERC is known for its effectiveness in removing dirt and grease from clothing, but it can also be harmful to people. PERC has both short-term and long-term effects on the nervous and respiratory systems, as well as other side effects.
PERC is released from dry cleaning machines when cleaning filters, when the machine door is open, and as a result of poorly maintained equipment. People can also be exposed to PERC if it is not kept in a sealed container. By following good housekeeping practices and operating your machine properly, you can prevent PERC exposure. Inspecting your machine for leaks on a regular basis will reduce the amount of PERC lost during cleaning, so you will also save your business money.
The Clean Air Act requires the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set standards to reduce hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from businesses. PERC is one of those HAPs. The District of Columbia also regulates which dry cleaners may use PERC.
This guide lists the steps that a normal dry cleaner operating in the District of Columbia must take in order to be in compliance with EPA air quality regulations. These regulations fall under three main categories: 1) maintenance of your equipment, 2) PERC controls required on each dry cleaning machine, and 3) records of purchases and maintenance. It is not a substitute for knowing the full requirements that apply under federal law. Please consult the resources on the back of this pamphlet for more information.
Many regulations can be satisfied by simply keeping your business clean and in good working order. If you have not already done so, you should begin a leak detection system where you check all equipment for spills, leaks, and disrepair. Always clean up spills and make repairs promptly.
Use Good Housekeeping Practices
Inspect Equipment Regularly
All PERC dry cleaning machines must be equipped with a refrigerated condenser or a carbon adsorber. Any machine installed after Dec 21, 2005 must have both. You should read the operating manual that comes with your dry cleaning machine and make sure that you understand what control equipment you have, where it is located, and how to monitor the settings and performance. You may be asked by an inspector to demonstrate this.
Please remember when ordering new equipment that any machine installed after January 1, 2014 may not use PERC at any dry cleaners in the District of Columbia. After January 1, 2029, all PERC use must be discontinued. If your facility is within 200 feet of a daycare facility, use of PERC may be prohibited under certain conditions.
It is important to document your business activities when they relate to purchasing chemicals, monitoring your equipment, or making changes and repairs to your machinery. Examples of checklists to record your weekly leak inspections are available from DDOE. You must record these activities and keep your files organized in case an inspector asks to see them. Please keep records available for a period of at least three years.
Hold on to your Records
Well organized files will help you keep track of your records when an inspector visits your facility.
- DC Air Quality Compliance: (202) 724-7650
- DC Air Quality Permitting: (202) 535-1747
- Registering as Hazardous Waste Generator: (202) 535-2290
- DC Small Business Assistance: (202)727-3900
- State Coalition for Remediation of Dry Cleaners (includes profiles, case studies, publications, resources)