RISK ASSESSMENT ON DRY CLEANERS
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Dry cleaning is the process of cleaning clothes, textile and laundry without the use of water. Dry cleaners usually use different chemicals to wash these materials typically because they may not be suitable in a usual laundry process such as use of water and soap and immersing in a tub or washing machine because there are delicate fabrics when using water. There are also very sensitive garments that can excessively impact changes in quality and therefore not suitable for ordinary laundry. Materials like wool and fine silk definitely needs dry cleaning because of its easy ripping conditions and breakage there are also clothes that is shrinking when used in water. The most typical solvent used in dry cleaning is tetrachloroethylene that is effective in removing dirt and odors in clothing but there are also dry cleaning shop that experiment on various chemicals whichever they found effective.
Garments are then check for foreign objects then goes through pre treatment, then brought to dry cleaning machine for heating process in a room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes more or less depending on the types of clothes and its dirt, it may even last almost up to half an hour. The garment will soon be distilled with the solvent as a rinsing process and spin dry for few more minutes called aeration and deodorizing process in the machine chamber before removal, post spotting stain and residue afterward it is then ready for heat press for a more presentable finishing touch. This is the usual cycle of a dry cleaning. Over the years dry cleaning process has evolved and there are available complete dry cleaning kits for household use so customers can decide if they want to do dry cleaning at home.
Dry cleaning has become a standard method for washing clothes but there are also risks and dangers involved in dry cleaning since the process use involved here is using chemicals that can infect our immune system. In a report shown in CBS News during 2009 with correspondent Tracy Smith together with the Federal Environmental Agency Chief Scientist Judith Schreiber PHD has shown that perchloroethylene is a harmful chemical that intoxicate and pollute the air we breathe. If too many of this classified neurotoxin chemicals have been inhaled in our body it may become weak that can cause dizziness, fatigue, sweating, headache and nauseous effects. This is the experience of husband and wife Danny O Brien and Mori Mickelson that during investigation they have found that the air in their apartment is contaminated with Perc chemicals coming from the dry cleaning agent when it leaked in their apartment and nearby residence. Mori collapsed and brought to the hospital.
Furthermore Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also announced that people in the dry cleaners when heavily exposed with such chemicals is also in danger of kidney and liver cancer, memory loss, skin and eye irritation and other diseases so they should be warned to handle this chemicals securely as possible. In California the use of these chemicals has been ban during investigation. EPA suggested to unwrap the garments from plastic before putting them on the closet can help. Dry cleaning chemicals can is also be harmful to the environment since the chemicals floats in the air while some dry cleaning facilities and machineries emits vapor and waste residue that can be risky when dumped or exposed to people so every dry cleaning shop should comply with the necessary government permit in waste disposal. In fact Perc should be recycled and not be disposed to avoid harm of intoxication.
It can also pollute water during distillation process the chemical can goes through directly to sewerage, canals and water drainage and can potentially be exposed to our safe drinking water if this has not been carefully treated within the shop. This contamination can also leak from water bodies that can intoxicate fishes and other living organism in water. Chemicals including Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Ammonia, Carbon Tetrachloride are also used in dry cleaning shops this can also cause severe danger combined when not properly used by dry cleaning personnel these can cause; diarrhea, vision impairment, high blood pressure, swelling, numbness, depression, burns and other diseases so workers and managers in a dry cleaning shop must be very careful while using these chemicals. EPA also suggested the use of DF 2000 which is a safer alternative to Perc but the harm of this chemical is that it is flammable and combustible so they must also be careful using this chemicals.
References; http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/casestudies/pdf/drycleaners.pdf http://www.ehow.com/facts_6021053_dangerous-dry-cleaning-chemicals.html http://healthfreedoms.org/2010/05/24/chemicals-used-in-dry-cleaning-their-dangers/ http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500195_162-2507444.html http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/drycleaningdangers.php