France forces dry cleaners to use safer chemicals

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Dry-cleaning may get that wine stain out of your favorite top, but it will also leave cancer-causing fumes in the air. France has decided to ban the main chemical used in dry cleaning and push cleaners to go green.

Perchlorethylene, also known as perc or tetrachloroethylene, is a solvent regularly used in dry cleaning. This clear liquid to remove stains and dirt from all types of fabrics. It’s effective and inexpensive, which is why 95% of dry cleaners in Europe use it every day.

But, perchlorethylene is also a toxic chemical. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer lists perchlorethylene on their A2 category, meaning it’s ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.
In response, the French government has introduced a new law banning the use of perc at dry cleaning establishments that are close to occupied buildings. The ban comes into full force in 2020. The move follows similar laws passed in Denmark and the United States.