California to phase out toxic dry-cleaning chemical

Continuing its quest to show the rest of the country up, California has notched another first: the state’s Air Resources Board has voted unanimously to phase out perchloroethylene, or perc, a toxic chemical commonly used in dry cleaning. Some 3,400 California cleaners who use the solvent — a suspected carcinogen said to contaminate one-tenth of the state’s wells — cannot buy new perc machines after next year, and the substance will be fully banned by 2023. While the timeline is slower than greens had hoped, it’s still a hit. “That’s the wave of the future — nontoxic, non-smog forming,” said Annette Kondo of the Coalition for Clean Air. “We think this is going to ripple down to other states across the country.” For their part, cleaners worried that the estimated $40,000 to $140,000 cost of replacing machines would sock it to small business owners. And since one of the leading alternative machines uses a petroleum derivative, this issue, like leggings and crocs, isn’t likely to go away any time soon.