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Mpls. Becomes 1st City To Ax Harmful Chemical From Dry Cleaners

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minneapolis is celebrating a major accomplishment when it comes to a service thousands of people use every day.

It is now the first major city to eliminate a harmful chemical from all of its dry cleaners.

Perchloroethylene, commonly known as "perc," is a chemical solvent used to clean clothes by dry cleaners, but it has the potential to be harmful to humans and the environment.

Osman Cleaners in Uptown became the last business in the city to become entirely "perc-free" on Wednesday.

Mayor Jacob Frey, city councilmembers and environmental officials were on hand to celebrate the removal of the last two barrels of the chemical.

It's a concern for the city's health department because the EPA has classified it as a likely carcinogen. It also has the potential to damage organs and affect reproduction and fetal development.

"Our biggest concern with perc is the exposure within the facility. It can be 100 to 1,000 times higher than it is in the outdoor air quality," city of Minneapolis' Director of Enviromenal Programs Patrick Hanlon said.

The new "perc-free" dry cleaning machines are not cheap, running about $100,000.

Osman Cleaners is getting some help paying for it through a variety of grants.

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