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General Description

Fabric care encompasses dry cleaning and laundry facilities and the acceptable chemicals to use, wastewater discharges, and air emissions.

Summary of Federal Requirements

Laundry Facilities

If the wastewater from the laundry is sent to a POTW, the laundry is not subject to NPDES (wastewater) permit requirements, but are covered by "pretreatment" regulations developed by the POTW. Pretreatment limitations may be imposed directly by the POTW on the lab, or they may be found in county or municipal ordinances. In general, the following may not be put down the drain to the POTW/FOTW:

  • Pollutants which would cause pass through or interference
  • Pollutants which create a fire or explosion hazard in the POTW/FOTW, including but not limited to waste streams with a closed cup flashpoint of less than 140 degrees F (60 degrees C).
  • Pollutants that will cause corrosive structural damage to the POTW/ FOTW.
  • Discharges with a pH below 5.0
  • Solid or viscous pollutants drains in amounts that will cause obstruction to the flow to the POTW/FOTW.
  • Pollutants, including pollutants with oxygen demand, released at a flow rate or concentration that will cause interference with the POTW/FOTW.
  • Heat in amounts that would inhibit biological activity at the POTW/ FOTW resulting in interference
  • Petroleum, oil, nonbiodegradable cutting oil, or products of mineral oil origin in amounts that would result in a pass through or interference
  • Pollutants which would result in the presence of toxic gases, vapors, or fumes within the POTW/FOTW in quantities that would cause acute worker health and safety problems.

If the wastewater from the laundry discharge to the environment, the facility needs to obtain an National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the EPA or the state if the state has primacy.

Dry Cleaning

If the facility is operating a petroleum dry cleaning plants with a total manufacturers’ rated dryer capacity equal to or greater than 38 kg (84 lb) that started construction or modification after 14 December 1982, except for dryers installed between 14 December 1982 and 21 September 1984 in a plant with an annual solvent consumption level less than 4700 gal, the dryer must be solvent recovery dryers and the petroleum solvent filters must be cartridge filters that are drained in their sealed housing for at least 8 h before their removal.

Existing dry cleaning systems and new transfer machine systems that use perchloroethylene are required to use emissions control devices. When operating perchloroethylene dry cleaning systems the door of each dry cleaning machine must be closed immediately after transferring articles to or from the machine and the door kept closed at all times. Perchloroethylene dry cleaning systems must also be operated and maintained according to manufacturers specifications and recommendations.

The cartridge filters from perchloroethylene dry cleaners must be drained in their housing, or other sealed container, for a minimum of 24 h or treated in an equivalent manner before removal from the dry cleaning facility. This waste must not be discharged down the sewer system drain.

All perceptible leaks and temperature violations at perchloroethylene dry cleaners are required to be repaired within 24 h unless parts must be ordered. Documentation requirements for perchloroethylene dry cleaners include:

  • Receipts of perchloroethylene purchases
  • A log of detailing volume calculations and monitoring results
  • A copy of the design specifications and the operating manual for each perchloroethylene dry cleaning system and each emission control device.

Summary of State Requirements

Some states prohibit the use of Federally acceptable dry cleaning solvents.

Laws and Statutes

Clean Air Act
Clean Water Act

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Regulatory Sources
40 CFR 60.620 through 60.625
Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources, Subpart JJJ: Standards of Performance for Petroleum Dry Cleaners.

40 CFR 63.320 through 63.326
National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Source Categories, Subpart M: National Perchloroethylene Air Emission Standards for Dry Cleaning Facilities.

40 CFR 122
EPA Administered Permit Programs: The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

40 CFR 122.21 – 122.37
EPA Administered Permit Programs: The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, Subpart B: Permit Application and Special NPDES Program Requirements.

40 CFR 403.1 through 403.20
General Pretreatment Regulations For Existing and New Sources of Pollution.

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Last Updated: June 23, 2017