Perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene (tetrachloroethene, PERC, or PCE) is a solvent used by dry cleaning facilities. Tetrachloroethene is a nonflammable, colorless liquid and readily evaporates into the air and has an ether-like odor.

Since most people stop noticing the odor of tetrachloroethene a short time after exposure, odor should not be used as a reliable indicator of the presence of this substance. Air concentrations of tetrachloroethene can be measured using a passive-sampling device, or monitor (as specified in the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Environmental Labouratory Approval Program Certification Manual). Tetrachloroethene monitors (also known as ‘PERC’ monitors) are easy to use and have maintained an excellent reputation in the occupational health-monitoring field. They may be purchased from our labouratory for $67.00; this fee includes both the monitor shipment to your home or business and the analysis fee.

How to Use the SGS Galson PERC Monitor:

1. The monitor and closure cap will be sent inside an aluminum can. Remove both lids to gain access to the monitor-DO NOT REMOVE UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO SAMPLE!

2. Enter the date, time and monitor identification onto the plastic can lid. Temperature and relative humidity information is useful but not mandatory.

3. Write the time (include a.m. or p.m.) on the back label of the monitor. This is your ‘start’ time. Immediately attach the monitor to an employee or hang the monitor approximately 5 to 6 feet above the floor, at least 2 feet from any window, door, or wall. DO NOT REMOVE THE WHITE FILM OR PLASTIC RING.

4. Allow the monitor to hang undisturbed for at least 8 hours.

5. Recap the monitor by removing the plastic ring and white film (if necessary, wedge a coin under the ring and twist). Immediately snap the closure cap onto the monitor. Press firmly to make sure the cap is sealed securely. Be sure the two plugs are closed. Record the time onto the back label of the monitor. This is your ‘end’ time.

6. Return the monitor to our labouratory using the preaddressed shipping envelope. Postage will be required.

Test results will be reported in units of micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3). The monitor can measure tetrachloroethylene levels as low as 5 ug/m3 when exposed for at least 8 hours.

NYSDOH recommends the average air level in a residential area not exceed 100 ug/m3. This guideline is much lower than the air levels shown to cause adverse health effects; thus, the possibility of adverse health effects is low even at air levels slightly above this guideline. If you believe you or your children have symptoms related to tetrachloroethene exposure, you may want to contact your personal physician. If you have any questions about the New York State guidelines, call the New York State Department of Health at 1-518-458-6405 or 1-800-458-1158 (ext. 6405).

If you would like to order a monitor to test for tetrachloroethene in your home, please contact SGS Galson at (315) 432-5227 for credit card orders. You may also send a cheque for $50.00 (requesting a PERC monitor) to SGS Galson, 6601 Kirkville Road, East Syracuse, New York, 13057.