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Keywords:

  • Perchloroethylene;
  • Dry cleaning;
  • Fabric extraction;
  • Gas chromatography

Abstract

We have used a novel gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS)-based approach to quantify perchloroethylene (PCE) residues in dry-cleaned fabrics. Residual PCE was extracted from fabric samples with methanol and concentration was calculated by the gas chromatographic peak area, standardized using PCE calibration data. Extracts examined were from samples of 100% wool, polyester, cotton, or silk, which were dry cleaned from one to six times in seven different Northern Virginia dry-cleaning establishments. Additional experiments were conducted to investigate the kinetics of PCE release in the extraction solvent and to the open air. We found that polyester, cotton, and wool retained ≥ µM levels of PCE, that these levels increased in successive dry-cleaning cycles, and that PCE is slowly volatilized from these fabrics under ambient room air conditions. We found that silk does not retain appreciable PCE. Measured differences across dry-cleaning establishments and fabric type suggest more vigorous monitoring of PCE residues may be warranted. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:2481–2487. © 2011 SETAC