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What are the environmental risks of a dry-cleaning operation?

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2023 | Dry Cleaning Regulations

Dry-cleaning businesses don’t always have the best reputations in the California commercial real estate industry. Investors and lenders often have concerns regarding chlorinated solvents and other chemicals dry cleaners use daily. If you’re considering starting a dry-cleaning business, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the environmental risks that may be associated with your endeavors, as well as where to seek support if legal problems arise.  

A substance known as perchloroethylene (PCE) is at the root of most environmental concerns regarding the dry-cleaning industry. Dry-cleaning businesses have used this throughout the United States since 1931. Even a small amount of PCE can contaminate millions of gallons of water if it comes in contact with it. 

Accidental spills and leaks are high-risk factors for dry cleaners 

When launching a dry-cleaning business in California, it is important to train your employees well on how to avoid accidental spills and leaks. Such mishaps can cause toxic chemicals to spill into the soil surrounding the property, which may pose a serious health hazard to the surrounding community.  

Toxic leaks and accidental spills can cause both air and ground contamination. Vapor intrusion is a major concern, which means that vapors seep into the air in the surrounding vicinity. A typical dry-cleaning establishment generates as much as 650 gallons (about 2460.52 L) of waste yearly.  

Go as green as possible in your dry-cleaning business 

The good news is that several options exist today to help dry cleaners detoxify their environments to improve workplace safety, as well as surrounding communities. You might consider using a system known as wet cleaning, which uses biodegradable soap and water.  

Containment measures must be employed, especially in areas where you store chemical solvents. There may be specific laws associated with containment, as well as waste removal and other issues that are relevant to a dry-cleaning business.  

What to do if legal problems arise 

A key to avoiding legal problems as a dry-cleaning business owner in California is to conduct thorough research ahead of time so that you understand environmental laws that govern the industry. Lack of knowledge may cause you to commit a violation, which can spark legal problems or result in citations or substantial fines.  

If you have questions about regulatory information or laws that govern the dry-cleaning industry, it is best to seek support from someone who is knowledgeable in these areas. Environmental risk issues often lead to litigation, especially in cases where numerous parties join to file class action lawsuits regarding a contaminated water supply or other legal matters. Arming yourself with information and knowing what options are available will help you find a swift and amicable solution to most problems.