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  • Writer's pictureLand Insight

PCA’s in focus: Dry Cleaning

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Dry Cleaners are distributed widely across Australia in premises that range from large industrial facilities to small hole-in-the wall operations. One thing in common to these facilities is the use of solvents, there is a potential for soil and groundwater contamination when these chemicals are released to the surrounding environment.

Dry cleaning involves the cleaning of fabrics with nonaqueous organic solvents. The dry cleaning process generally involves: washing the fabric in solvent, spinning to extract excess solvent, and drying by tumbling in a hot air stream. A variety of solvents can be used in this process and until recently, this has been predominately halogenated solvents such as perchloroethylene (PERC), a probable human carcinogen and a persistent environmental pollutant.

Contamination can occur throughout the process due to improper storage and handling of chemicals and waste products, and also minor leaks and spills. All of these have the potential to cause significant long lasting contamination within the site and surrounding properties. Even if the dry cleaning establishment is hundreds of metres away, you may be at risk of a contaminated groundwater plume.

The Dry Cleaning industry has come under the spotlight by Australian regulators and as a result improvements to equipment and preventive measures have reduced the occurrence of accidental spills and leaks. However, operators incapable of adopting these changes and also the actions of historic businesses has left a legacy of contamination on and around many dry cleaning sites.

Identifying the location of current and past dry cleaning practices is essential to understand potential contamination risk at your site. Land Insight's PCA data base includes over 5,500 current and historic dry cleaning premises which are identified and mapped in a Due Diligence Insight Report ensuring you have all of your environmental risk data in the one easy to use location.

Land Insight Dry Cleaners mapping (Data from Land Insight's PCA database)

Studies by the EPA USA, the State Coalition for Remediation of Dry Cleaners (SCRD) and others have estimated that 75% of the approximately 30,000 dry cleaners currently in operation have contamination (i.e., 22, 500 actively contaminated sites) (source:


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