Health Risk from Dry Cleaning
Dry cleaning refers to the process that uses solvents that are nonacqueous to clean clothes, garments and other fabrics. Dry cleaning has evolved with technology for the past years but there are a number of health risks that dry cleaners come with; the solvent, which is used in dry cleaners exposes people to health hazards. Perchrothylene is a dominant chemical that is used in dry cleaning. The solvent is effective, is used in almost all dry cleaners because it removes dirt, stains from clothes, and does not cause dyes to fade or clothes to shrink. The solvent can be reused.It is efficient in cleaning and it is also cost effective but it exposes workers at the dry cleaners to health hazards for the reason that they easily contract diseases like cancer due to the carcinogenic nature of the chemical.
Residents of areas that are adjacent to dry cleaners are involuntarily and potentially exposed to both long term chronic pollution and short term accidental emission of chemicals to their environment. The contact withthe solvents and the regular pollution of the environments pose health problems neighborhoods because the solvent that is used is carcinogenic in nature.
Percis used in dry cleaners; it is an environmental contaminant that has been detected in the ground, air and water surfaces(Stephen andJohanson19). The international agency for research on cancer classifies Perc as a group 2 carcinogen.Perc is a possible human carcinogen with no identifiable limit, as it can enter the body of human beings and depress the central nervous system.
Research has shown that the exposure to tetrachloroethylene, another solvent that is used in the dry cleaning industry increases the risks of getting cancer specifically that of the esophagus. Exposure to the chemical also leads to headaches, difficulties with color vision, impaired motor skills, cancer and menstrual problems. Menstrual problems that come as a consequence of the contactwith the chemicals in the dry cleaners can lead to infertility.
Acute exposure to perchloroethylene
Inhalation of the chemical exposes humans to health risks.The chemical causes irritation in the eyes and it also causes the kidneys to malfunction. At lowconcentration, the chemical results in changes in mood and behavior, impairment of coordination, unconsciousness and dizziness.
Animal researches have shown that exposure to perc contributes to increased risk of tumors. It can produce esophageal and cervical cancer.
Chronic exposure to the chemical result in major neurological effects, which includeimpairment in cognitive and motor neurobehavioral functioning and vision decrements. Chronic breathing of the chemical also results in damage to the liver and kidney, and it also affects the process of reproduction.
The chemical’s vapor emits a strong odor that causes respiratory distress, cardiac irregularities, nausea and dizziness within very few minutes. Family members of workers in the industry are also exposed to the chemicals. The breath of the exposed workers elevates the risk of diseases associated with the chemical in the home environment. Remnants of perc vapor on neighborhoods that have dry cleaning facilities increase the risk of health hazards. A study revealed that people who leave near dry cleaning facilities or those who stored clothes that are dry-cleaned at home showed significant exposure to Perc. Clothes and garments that are subjected to commercial dry cleaning with Perc are a significant source of pollution at home and lead to numerous diseases.
The chemical also affects thereproduction system, for instance, menstrual disorders, alters the structures of the sperm and reduces fertility in both men and women. Researchers have linked some disorders in young ones after birth to chronic exposure of pregnant women to the chemical. The chemical is also hazardous to animals because it causes fetal resorptions.
Those who are employed and work in dry cleaners come in contact with the chemical for a long period have a high risk of contracting cancer. Studies have revealed a link between contact withtetrachloroethylene and the possibility of getting cancer of the bladder.
Prolonged contact and exposure to the solvent can result in cancer of the bladder because the chemical is carcinogenic in nature. Studies have revealed an exposure-response relationship basing on the duration and intensity of contact withtetrachloroethylene. Studies have indicated increased risk to bladder cancer among people who work in dry cleaners. Dry cleaners expose a mixture of many substances to human beings with tetrachloroethylene as the main bladder carcinogen(Vlaanderen, Blair,Lynge andHansen663)
Exposure to the chemicals used in dry cleaning reduces low and high level visual function. The chemicals have been associated with a number of visual deficits. “Color vision, for instance, the blue-yellow vision system is adversely affected by the solvents”(Jiménez, Ingrid Boonand Khuu17).
Dry cleaning has added a measure of quality and efficiency in our lifestyles in the modern days but it has also come with a cost to both personal and environmental health. The chemicals that are used in commercial dry cleaning have many health consequences
Jiménez Barbosa, Ingrid Astrid, Mei Ying Boon, and Sieu K. Khuu. “Exposure To Organic Solvents Used In Dry Cleaning Reduces Low And High Level Visual Function.” Plos ONE10.5 (2015): 1-23. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
VlaanderenStraif, Ruder Blair, and HansenLynge “Tetrachloroethylene Exposure and Bladder Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis of Dry-Cleaning-Worker Studies.” Environmental Health Perspectives 122.7 (2014): 661-666. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
Whittaker Stephen and ChantrelleJohanson.”A Health and Environmental Profile of the Dry Cleaning Industry in King County, Washington.” Journal of Environmental Health75.10 (2013): 14-22. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 Oct. 2015