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Dry Cleaning Solvent Faces Ban

November 1, 2002

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DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (AP) _ Southern California air quality regulators planned to consider a proposal that would phase out the most commonly used dry cleaning solvent due to public health concerns.

If adopted by the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which was to consider the ban Friday, the proposal would make the greater Los Angeles region the first in the nation to outlaw perchloroethylene. Officials seek to eliminate its use outright by 2019.

The solvent has been linked to cancers of the lung, cervix, esophagus and bladder in dry cleaning workers. As such, it poses an unacceptable risk to public health, said Jill Whynot, planning and rules manager for the agency.

``We want this industry to move to nontoxic alternatives,″ Whynot said.

Since the environmental agency has passed other emission rules, including regulations on house paint, diesel engines and power plants, its actions are closely watched.

Groups representing solvent manufacturers have already threatened to sue, said Barry Wallerstein, executive director of the clean-air agency.

And representatives of the region’s 2,200 dry cleaners, owned largely by Korean-American immigrants, claim the regulation will force many out of business.

Under the terms of the regulation, after Jan. 1, any new dry cleaner, or existing cleaner adding equipment, would have to buy a machine not using the solvent. After July 1, 2004, any dry cleaning machine that is replaced, or any machine 15 or more years old, would have to be replaced with a machine that does not use the substance.

Cities including New York and San Francisco heavily regulate use of the solvent, but it has not been banned outright.


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