Dry cleaning businesses aren’t uncommon to see when driving through the streets of a small town or a big city. No matter the size and location of a city, everyone needs the services that dry cleaners provide for some reason or another. But a dry cleaner program can produce a number of hazards in their surroundings, opening up the door to potential liabilities and exposures.
From pollution to leaks, theft to fire, property hazards can vary in type and effect, thus carrying with them a unique level of risk to provide insurance for. And while insurance for dry cleaner programs is needed in order to operate with limited risk, knowing how to reduce property hazards to protect against in the first place should be the focus.
Cleaning Up Chemicals
According to statistics from the International Fabricare Institute (IFI), more than 35,000 retail dry cleaner programs operate in the United States. However, this number doesn’t represent the larger number of former operations. Estimates show that more than 70 percent of past and present day dry cleaner programs have either accidentally or intentionally released chemicals into the surrounding soil or groundwater.
The contamination from a dry cleaner program over the decades is still active in cities today. Even with efforts from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal and state environmental agencies to restrict modern day dry cleaning equipment and cut down on chemical solvents, the effects are still in place.
Any property on or near a dry cleaning program may be at risk of air or groundwater contamination. Solvents can eventually evaporate and turn into breathable vapors or seep into building structures, sidewalks, and streets.
Cleanup costs for a leak can range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions, depending on the scope of the chemical release and the effects it has. These effects could include contaminating a water line or a bigger source of water, ultimately leading to illnesses in the community nearby.
Anyone who is exposed to toxic air pollutants for longer periods of time may see an increase in their chances of getting cancer or experiencing other major health problems later on. These could be birth defects, asthma, or reproductive problems. Pollution prevention can help to safeguard the health and wellness of a dry cleaner’s staff as well as its customers and attached businesses. By using materials, processes, or practices that can help reduce or eliminate pollution at the source, dry cleaners are helping to avoid risks and protect the health and integrity of many different lives. For instance, ensuring proper drying time can help to cut down on air pollution. Doing this can also save money on waste disposal and the overall cost of air pollution controls.
Tips for Cutting Down on Contamination Hazards
- Check hoses and pumps for leaks by using a halogenated leak detector to help identify leaks.
- Allow the drying cycle to complete before opening the door, which can reduce the effectiveness of solvent recovery equipment.
- Replace cartridge filters with spin disk filters that can be cleaned without having to be opened.
- Cover containers of solvents. This can help to reduce solvent loss from evaporation and fugitive emissions of air pollutants and VOC.
About Irving Weber Associates
At Irving Weber Associates, Inc., we understand what it takes to run a successful Dry Cleaner, Commercial/Textile Service or Laundromat business, including investing in a comprehensive Fabricare Advantage Insurance Program to ensure that you are financially protected against legal claims. Our program includes specialty coverages including Environmental and General Liability, Property, Site Pollution Liability, Boiler & Machinery, Business Auto, and many more. For a detailed look at how we can safeguard your business with a custom-tailored package, please contact our specialists today at (855) 764-7406.