Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Risk of Schizophrenia in Offspring of Dry Cleaners Very High

Tetrachloroethylene use by dry cleaners and Schizophrenia risk in offspring:
It has been reported that the VT gunman's parents own a dry cleaners shop.

Schizophr Res. 2007 Feb;90(1-3):251-4. Epub 2006 Nov 17. Links
Tetrachloroethylene exposure and risk of schizophrenia: offspring of dry cleaners in a population birth cohort, preliminary findings.Perrin MC, Opler MG, Harlap S, Harkavy-Friedman J, Kleinhaus K, Nahon D, Fennig S, Susser ES, Malaspina D.
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York, 10032, USA. mcp20@columbia.edu

Tetrachloroethylene is a solvent used in dry cleaning with reported neurotoxic effects. Using proportional hazard methods, we examined the relationship between parental occupation as a dry cleaner and risk for schizophrenia in a prospective population-based cohort of 88,829 offspring born in Jerusalem from 1964 through 1976, followed from birth to age 21-33 years. Of 144 offspring whose parents were dry cleaners, 4 developed schizophrenia. We observed an increased incidence of schizophrenia in offspring of parents who were dry cleaners (RR=3.4, 95% CI, 1.3-9.2, p=0.01). Tetrachloroethylene exposure warrants further investigation as a risk factor for schizophrenia.

PMID: 17113267 [PubMed - in process]

New Types of Dry Cleaning That Are Better for the Environment and Safer for You
Darn that stain Uncle Harry got on your best sweater when he spilled his home-brewed honey-rutabaga beer on you at the family's holiday get-together. Curse the lingering scent of "Eau de Midnight Pasture" perfume that Grandma Jean's hug left on your sport coat. Well, off to the cleaners!

There are over 30,000 dry cleaning facilities for you to choose from in the United States, but 95 percent of them use the toxic chemical perchloroethylene (perc) as the primary cleaning solvent. Exposure to perc is a significant risk to the workers who dry clean the clothes, and it's also a health risk to you and the loved ones who share your home. Once you get the dry-cleaned clothes home, they continue to off-gas perc into the air in your abode.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences states that: "Short-term exposure to PERC can cause adverse health effects on the nervous system that include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, sweating, incoordination, and unconsciousness. Long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage." The International Association for Research on Cancer classifies perc as a probable carcinogen.

Fortunately, there are healthier (and greener) dry-cleaning alternatives. Here they are:

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