Jessie Taylor

Project title: Characterizing the Waste Streams from Alternative Solvent Dry Cleaners

Degree: MS | Program: Occupational & Environmental Exposure Sciences (OEES) - no longer offered | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2012 | Faculty advisor: Michael G. Yost


While perchloroethylene solvent based dry cleaners occupational exposures and machine wastes have been well characterized, little is known about exposures to alternative solvent s and their wastes or the hazardous waste status of the wastes. Additionally, knowledge of detergents and spot treatment products is sparse. Samples of still bottoms and separator water, and cleaning products were taken from ten petroleum based hydrocarbon solvent dry cleaners in King County and one cleaner using a new solvent (Solvon K4) to the market based on butylal. The samples were analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOC), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC), metals, pH, flash point, and total organic halogens (TOH). This information was used to characterize the waste using Washington State hazardous waste criteria. All samples of hydrocarbon and butylal still bottoms designated as dangerous waste on the basis of TOH. Five of the ten hydrocarbon solvent still bottom samples also had flash points below 140˚F as did one of the four butylal still bottom samples. Only one sample of separator water designated as dangerous. This sample was visually different from the others, with a clear layer of solvent on the surface. A wide variety of spot treatment products are used by the dry cleaners sampled. Six of these contained probable or potential carcinogens at concentrations greater than 0.1% not listed as such on the MSDS. Additionally, one of the seven detergents sampled contained 0.11% methylene chloride. These findings raise concerns for occupation exposure to toxic chemicals that the workers may not be aware of even if they have read the MSDS for the products they work with on a daily basis. The waste characterization indicates that waste from alternative solvent dry cleaners may be considered dangerous waste and should be treated as such with proper disposal and handling procedures. URI