Last week, California Gov. Gray Davis (D) took on washing machines, signing legislation requiring them to be water-efficient by 2007; now the state’s South Coast Air Quality Management District has taken aim at a related target — dry cleaners. The district, which is responsible for cleaning up the air breathed by about half of all Californians, wants to phase out perchloroethylene, or perc, the most common solvent used by dry cleaners. It says perc, which is the number two cancer risk in the Los Angeles area after diesel exhaust, pollutes the air, water, and soil. The move to ban it is the nation’s first, although some cities, such as New York and San Francisco, regulate the solvent heavily. The management district faces heavy opposition from the industry, which says perc substitutes are more expensive, more labor intensive, and not as effective.