In the past, chemicals used in dry cleaning weren’t regulated and PCE was commonly spilled and dumped into the environment (for example, waste dumped behind the building or into floor drains, leaked through pipes, or spilled out of dumpsters and air vents).
PCE doesn’t break down easily and it can stay in the soil, air pockets in the soil, groundwater and indoor air for a long time. PCE is also highly volatile, which means it can easily become a gas, and it can then contaminate the air of buildings as it travels through the foundation.
The process of dry cleaning has improved a lot over the years, but the effects of PCE on the environment and human health are still a real concern, especially when dry cleaners are or were in the same building as apartments, offices or other businesses (for example, strip mall). The main concern today is when PCE is released into the air by dry cleaners.