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The Board of Health of the City of Toronto has recently moved on recommendations from Toronto Public Health to look into ways to increase regulation of dry cleaning operations in the city.

The increased restrictions were in response to lobbying efforts from a number of environmental organizations. Perchloroethylene (also known as PERC or Tetrachloroethylene) has been identified by the City’s ChemTRAC programme as one of the highest concern substances for public health in the City.

The Board, among other measures, voted to request the city’s Medical Officer of Health report in 2017 about the possibility of implementing a point-of-sale display programme. The programme would require dry cleaners to post a notice as to the types of solvents being used and the hazards they post. This idea is loosely similar to the “DineSafe” programme in place in Toronto and several other Ontario jurisdictions, which requires restaurants to prominently display notice of the results of their most recent public health inspection. Several American jurisdictions have, or are considering, a point-of-sale display system for dry cleaners.

The Board also voted to make a number of requests to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Specifically, it voted to request that the MOECC update its “Dry Cleaner Environmental Management Training Course” manual to reflect to most recent information on “wet cleaning”—water-based professional garment cleaning techniques that do not employ solvents or other hazards chemicals—and that it introduce a programme to incentivize  dry cleaners to transition from PERC-based to wet cleaning-based systems.

It further requested the Medical Officer of Health and General Manager include dry cleaning, along with several other industries, in the city’s on-going review of the pollutants included in its Sewers By-law.

Dry cleaning operations are subject to a wide spectrum of regulation, including the Tetrachloroethylene (Use in Dry Cleaning and Reporting Requirements) Regulations, made under the federal Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Environment and Climate Change Canada appears to be prosecuting dry cleaners who are not in compliance with the regualtory requirements.

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