In older dry cleaning systems PERC may be vented directly from the machines to the outside air. Perc breaks down in a couple of weeks into other chemicals, some of which deplete the ozone layer, and some of which are toxic.
It is also known to be toxic to plants and can easily pollute the ground through leaky pipes, mishandling, etc. PERC can leach into the ground and contaminate surface water, ground water, and potentially drinking water. There are EPA standards for how much PERC is acceptable in your drinking water. Is any amount acceptable? It is known to be toxic to marine life even in very small amounts.
A growing consciousness and concern over the use of PERC has driven technology for alternatives. There is now a method of cleaning that uses water for it’s “solvent”, instead of nasty chemicals which are harmful to everyone and everything under the sun.
To see if there is a Wetcleaner near you, check out this link: Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, where you can search by your zip code for environmentally friendly cleaners near you.
**Tip: When you bring your clothes home from a dry cleaner, if you still insist on dry cleaning, hang them in the garage or outside, and take the plastic off. Let them air out.