Cancer Risks to Dry Cleaning Workers from Exposure to Perchloroethylene

Rushing, Katherine
Historically, perchloroethylene (PCE) has been the primary solvent used for dry cleaning in the United States. In the past two decades, research has suggested harmful health effects related to exposure to perchloroethylene. Inhalation of high levels of PCE among workers in the dry cleaning industry potentially causes a range of health and cancer effects. PCE is anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on evidence from animal testing. This paper aims to estimate the frequency of cancer cases found in dry cleaning workers based on estimated exposure to PCE and the resultant costs and benefits to society that would result if these cancers could be prevented. Overall, exposure to PCE causes a greater number of cancers in dry cleaning workers than is considered acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency, and therefore, action by the firms, society, or the government is needed to mitigate these high instances of cancer.
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