Jan. 24, 2018 (MINNEAPOLIS) Minneapolis becomes the first major city to go entirely “perc-free” as the last dry cleaner switches over to a safer process. With help from the City of Minneapolis, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, East Isles Resident Association and Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, Osman Cleaners switched its machines over from using perchloroethylene – also called “perc” – to a process using clean solvents safer for employees, neighbors and customers. In less than six years since the City’s cost-sharing program began, Minneapolis has helped the last nine dry cleaners in the city using perchloroethylene replace their equipment to make the switch.
“As recently as 2015 we know that there were 99 occasions in our city where perc was detected at levels above what the state defines as a ‘chronic health risk,’” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “In 2016 we took a major step forward by passing my ordinance to strengthen support for businesses looking to make investments in green technology, and today Minneapolis marked a major milestone by becoming the first city in the entire country to go perc-free. We look forward to taking the Minneapolis model stateside and helping more communities do right by their businesses, consumers and the environment.”
Perchloroethylene is the main chemical solvent used in dry cleaning. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies perchloroethylene as a “likely carcinogen”; it also has the potential to damage the kidneys, liver, immune system and blood system, and affect reproduction and fetal development. A 2015 Minneapolis Health Department study detected 99 occasions of perchloroethylene above levels that are considered health risks over a long period of time in outdoor, ambient air in Minneapolis.
Financial assistance from the neighborhood groups made this and other cost-prohibitive projects possible for small businesses and also laid groundwork for more healthy City-neighborhood partnerships.
The funds for the program come from pollution control fees that businesses pay to the City. Find more information about the City’s green business cost-sharing programs here.