Perchloroethylene ("perc") has long been recognized as an effective dry cleaning solvent and today it is by far the most commonly used solvent in dry cleaning shops. However, as a volatile organic solvent, perc may pose serious health hazards if exposure is not properly controlled. Dry cleaning workers who routinely breathe excessive amounts of the solvent vapor or spill perc on their skin are at risk of developing health problems.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set an 8-hour time weighted average permissible exposure limit of 100 ppm, an acceptable ceiling exposure limit of 200 ppm, and a maximum peak of 300 ppm (not to be exceeded for more than 5 minutes of any 3-hour period). Therefore perchloroethylene testing for dry cleaners is imperative.
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