Environmental Consulting & Assessments for Properties On Dry Cleaner Sites


Historical dry cleaning sites pose unique challenges when it comes to environmental liability. Special precautions which are commonplace today, involving the use and disposal of the chemicals and waste generated by dry cleaning operations, were not so prevalent in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. The prohibitive cost for proper offsite transportation and disposal of the waste, combined with the lack of regulatory oversight, led many dry cleaning operators to find other means to dispose of their waste.

Think of your local dry cleaner today, operating out of a small storefront in a strip mall. Some conscientious owners would store their waste in drums in the alley in back of the strip mall and pay a third party to haul away their waste. Today, we understand it was typical for unscrupulous owners toss the waste out the back door, or dump the liquid in a wooded area or storm drain. As a liquid, the waste simply leached into the soil or around the drain tile of the building structure where it remained for decades.

What is Perc?

Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene, PCE, or ‘perc’, is one of the most regulated substances used in the dry cleaning industry. A suspected carcinogen itself, ‘perc’ degrades into toxins, including trichloroethylene, dichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride.

When not properly managed or disposed of, these chemicals can contaminate air, soil, or groundwater surrounding the site.  The primary concern with ‘perc’ in the soil or groundwater is vapor intrusion into the building. Indoor air quality is a hot topic and there’s no shortage of articles detailing health issues associated with mold, formaldehyde and other sick building related issues. The vapors associated with ‘perc’ contaminated soil or groundwater literally ‘intrude’ through cracks and utility penetrations in the concrete slabs of buildings, negatively impacting the indoor air quality for tenants, customers and even neighboring businesses.

Both the EPA and state agencies have set air quality health risk standards for ‘perc’ related compounds, and they are very restrictive so as to protect human health.

Buildings identified as having indoor air quality issues that exceed vapor intrusion screening levels are subject to regulatory directives that typically include remedial measures such as the installation of a sub slab depressurization system. The objective of a subsurface depressurization system is to apply a negative pressure field or vacuum beneath and/or around the building of concern, thereby preventing vapor intrusion into the building. A subsurface depressurization system utilizes a fan or blower to create a continuous negative pressure field (vacuum) below the slab.

Our Clients / Who We Support

Lenders, real estate developers, and investors are well aware of the potential issues (and the due diligence required) for properties located at or near  former or active dry cleaning facilities.  Environmental testing and sampling to identify potential hazards is common in advance of construction, renovation or a real estate transaction.

TEC serves to navigate the complex regulations, involving testing, remediation and reporting. With expert consultants to guide the way, you’ll rest easy, knowing your site complies with current standards and, even more important, is safe for tenants or other occupants.

Services for Dry Cleaning Sites

TEC provides peace of mind regarding environmental considerations for former or active dry cleaning sites. No matter the current stage of the operation, we offer services to help you comply with environmental obligations or discover and remediate contamination concerns.

Phase I Assessment – Often the first step of the due diligence process, a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) investigates the possibility of contamination. It involves inspecting the property, performing research, and conducting interviews about site history and use with regulatory officials and site owners.

Phase II Assessment – More comprehensive than a Phase I ESA, Phase II determines whether contamination is present through sample testing and analysis. It involves soil sampling, groundwater analysis, surface and drinking water tests, and soil gas sampling. Phase II testing results often influence whether a plan is needed for clean-up, waste disposal, or remediation.

Corrective Action Plans – When hazardous substances are known to contaminate a site, you’ll require a plan to address the issue. This may include soil vapor extraction, groundwater treatment, or chemical injection.

Regulatory Compliance Assistance – The environmental rules that apply to dry cleaning operations are intricate, making them difficult to interpret. Still, business owners must ensure thorough and effective management for the safe use, and disposal, of dry cleaning waste.

Environmental Solutions for Dry Cleaning Sites

At Total Environmental Concepts, we collaborate with our clients to find positive environmental solutions that support their business.  Our expert team of consultants can help with site assessments, testing, and navigating the ever-changing regulatory requirements.

We look forward to putting our decades of experience to work as your trusted partner for environmental consulting and assessment.