Why we regulate dry cleaners

Dry cleaning chemicals known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) can cause health problems. In order to protect yourself, your staff and your customers, we regulate establishments using polluting chemicals.

VOCs can have short-term and long-term adverse health effects. You and your staff will be exposed to VOCs while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored. There will also be emissions outside your premises in to the wider environment. 

Adverse health effects may include: 

  • eye, nose and throat irritation
  • headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
  • damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system 
  • some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. 

Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include:

  • conjunctival irritation
  • nose and throat discomfort 
  • headache 
  • allergic skin reaction 
  • dyspnea 
  • declines in serum cholinesterase levels
  • nausea 
  • emesis 
  • epistaxis 
  • fatigue 
  • dizziness. 

The ability of organic chemicals to cause adverse health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed.

Among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics include: 

  • eye and respiratory tract irritation 
  • headaches 
  • dizziness 
  • visual disorders 
  • memory impairment.
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