The owner of a dry cleaning establishment in Mississauga, Ontario recently plead guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice to one count of contravening the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations made pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
An inspection of the dry-cleaning facility, conducted in January 2016 by enforcement officers from Environment Canada and Climate Change, revealed that a container, in which a residue containing tetrachloroethylene was found, did not have a secondary containment system, which is in contravention of the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations.
The owner, Mr. Samy Iskander, was fined $5,000, which will be directed to the Environmental Damages Fund.
Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene or PERC, is a chemical used in Canadian dry cleaning. Tetrachloroethylene can enter the environment through the soil, where it can damage plants, and it can find its way into ground water.
On March 29, 2000, tetrachloroethylene was added to “Schedule 1: List of Toxic Substances” of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. According to section 64 of the Act, a substance is classified as toxic if it may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or if it may constitute a danger, in Canada, to human life or health.
Environment Canada warns that human exposure to high concentrations of PERC can inflict a host of health issues, including eye irritation, memory loss and even liver and kidney damage. The department says PERC primarily enters the environment through the atmosphere, where it can damage plants, but it can also find its way into water systems, putting aquatic creatures at risk.
Between 2005-06 and 2008-09, Environment Canada conducted more inspections for PERC than anything else. The substance remains legal in Canada, but users must follow regulations and keep machines in good condition.