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Is ‘Organic’ Dry Cleaning a Scam?

Is ‘Organic’ Dry Cleaning a Scam?

Many dry cleaning stores advertise they are organic, but it doesn’t mean they are better for your health or the environment.

We know that “organic” food is supposed to be free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals, but does the same apply to dry cleaners claiming to be organic? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Many establishments seem to use the term to attract health and environmentally conscious consumers but use chemicals that are either the same as traditional dry cleaners or others that are also dangerous. Meanwhile, the EPA not only allows this fraud to take place, it permits the wide use of these and many other dangerous chemicals because that’s what the chemical industry wants.

Traditional dry cleaning relies on toxic chemicals like tetrachloroethylene, also known as perc, which is likely to be carcinogenic and is neurotoxic and may be linked with Parkinson’s disease. You may think you can avoid perc by going to dry cleaners that advertise themselves as “organic,” but you’d be wrong. For one thing, there is no certification process for organic dry cleaners. In many cases these businesses are capitalizing on consumers’ understanding of “organic” in the context of food. Food carrying the organic label may not be grown with the use of synthetic chemicals, pesticides, or herbicides. With chemicals, however, “organic” simply means a compound containing carbon—which includes perc.

Some organic dry cleaners use DF-2000, a petroleum-based chemical made by Exxon-Mobil. The EPA lists DF-2000 as a neurotoxin and skin and eye irritant. It may be somewhat safer than perc, but it still carries danger for both human health and the environment.

There is also evidence that chemicals used in the dry cleaning process remain on clothes. Studies have shown that storing dry cleaned clothes in a closet can boost ambient perc concentrations.

The EPA just added a common dry cleaning chemical, 1-bromopropane, to its list of hazardous air pollutants because it is suspected to damage nerves and cause cancer. This marks the first addition to the hazardous air pollutants list in over thirty years. This doesn’t mean the chemical is banned, it simply means the agency is required to set emissions standards for sources of this pollution.

For those wanting options safer for human health and the environment, experts recommend the CO2 method, which converts carbon dioxide to a liquid form and combines it with non-toxic detergent—though it may be hard to find establishments that offer this service. Delicate clothes can also be “wet cleaned” with regular water and detergent, so you can also ask local shops if they offer this option.

We shouldn’t have to educate ourselves to such an extent to avoid harmful chemicals when we clean our clothes, cook food, drink tap water, maintain our lawns, or engage in any number of activities. Why doesn’t the EPA step in and prevent fraudulent marketing of “organic” dry cleaning chemicals? Because it is easier to look the other way to protect the large companies producing the dangerous chemicals. The sad truth is that the EPA, the agency responsible for safeguarding the public from dangerous chemicals, cannot be trusted to do its job.

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5 thoughts on “Is ‘Organic’ Dry Cleaning a Scam?

  • Sharon McDonough-Means

    The other nomenclature to explore/evaluate is Green Cleaners. I am not sure what cleaning method they use but that may be of concern. Not sure that here I have ever seen an Organic Dry Cleaners.

  • Andrew Jacobson

    Is alliance for natural health trying to deceive the public now by stating that organic food is supposed to be chemical free? Are they not aware that organic regulations allow over 500 different pesticides on organic crops? Of crops found in supermarkets the majority generally are being sprayed with pesticides. This is because Supermarket chains demand that growers supply all there stores with the product they are purchasing. In order for growers to supply enough of one produce they must mono-crop. Growing large acreage of one crop cannot be done without pesticides because when a pest flies off the crop it lands on more of the same crop. This abundance of food for the pest helps the pest multiply to the point that it damages the crop. In order to grow without pesticides nature must be mimicked. This is done by growing many different crops in small quantities so that when a pest flies away it land on other crops. If you really want to eat chemical free you must know the practices your grower uses.

  • Debra

    Isn’t this another example of our government trying to kill us with chemicals?
    Vaccinations that are killing us, bug and weed killers that are killing us, the fast food diet that’s killing us and the GMO’s that will kill us. I’m a health coach, you should know about meat glue and how many people are eating it? Does anyone have heart or intestine disorders? GRAS generally regarded as safe doesn’t mean that you should eat it! Not anti-food, just anti-ignorant of exactly what goes in my body.

  • Emily E

    It’s blatantly clear the United States is for profit for it’s wealthiest citizens and corporations. I don’t think it will ever ever change in my lifetime. Everyday we have more taken from us, more information about corruption like this article, and see nothing done about it. We are blatantly lied to right in our faces with the proof there for everyone to see and again, nothing done about it. It’s swept under the rug. I can only imagine what other countries think of the United States and the poverty we have with no options. Being poor in this country is a death sentence at an early age. I’ve never felt as hopeless or helpless with no options or way out as I have these last few 15 years.

  • The EPA is all about making money , they don’t care if people or animals or the planet is sick they want it that way because then Big Pharma kicks in and makes more money which they probably own or have stocks in !

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