1. What is GreenEarth®?
GreenEarth is the brand name for a liquid silicone dry cleaning solution. It is an exclusive, patented dry cleaning process whose name and logo are trademarked (there are no “generic” forms of GreenEarth). The scientific name for liquid silicone is decamethylpentacyclosiloxane, or D5.
2. Why is it better for the earth?
Eighty-five percent of dry cleaners use a solvent known as perc, short for perchloroethylene, a chlorinated hydrocarbon classified by the EPA as a Toxic Air Contaminant. Use of perc is highly regulated because indiscriminate disposal of perc can seriously contaminate soil and groundwater, and exposure can irritate eyes, nose and throat, as well as cause headaches, dizziness or fatigue. Perc is also classified by the EPA as a possible to probable human carcinogen. In contrast, GreenEarth is so safe the EPA does not regulate it. It’s safe for the air, water and soil. The GreenEarth solution is not a VOC; it is non-toxic, and non-hazardous. If you wanted to, you could safely rub it on your skin. In fact, you probably already do. That’s because GreenEarth’s solution is pure liquid silicone-essentially liquefied sand. It’s the same base ingredient found in everyday shampoos, soaps and lotions. Plus, when released to the environment, liquid silicone safely degrades back into its three natural components: sand (SiO2), water and carbon dioxide.
3. Why is it better for clothes?
GreenEarth solution is different from dry cleaning solvents in that liquid silicone is chemically inert, meaning it does not interact with the textile fabric or dyes during the cleaning process. This helps preserve the quality of garments, eliminates problems with fabric wear or color loss, maintains a soft “hand” and prevents shrinkage. Delicate silks, suede, leather, beads, sequins, painted garments, specialty buttons and trims, couture, heirloom fabrics and other “problem” items are no problem at all. And, unlike petroleum based solvents like perc or hydrocarbon, liquid silicone is odorless, so there is no lingering chemical smell on your clothes.
4. Why is it better for dry cleaners?
Dry cleaners face a difficult dilemma: it can be very expensive to purchase and operate an environmentally responsible cleaning system. GreenEarth is the one truly “green” system that is affordable for dry cleaners. The cost for a machine capable of using GreenEarth is similar to the perc machines most dry cleaners currently use. And, because it requires less labor to process and finish items cleaned with the GreenEarth system and machines can be configured to use less energy than traditional systems, dry cleaners using GreenEarth enjoy better operating efficiency. Best of all, GreenEarth produces a noticeable difference that customers can see, touch and smell, helping Affiliates attract and keep loyal customers. The only other recognized “green” alternatives in dry cleaning are CO2 and 100% wet cleaning. The problem for dry cleaners, especially the small “mom and pop” cleaners who are the backbone of the industry, is that it is very difficult to make a living operating exclusively with either of these eco-friendly systems. CO2 machines can cost up to three times as much as traditional dry cleaning machines. Wet cleaning requires more labor to produce and finish garments, thus both options are considerably more expensive to operate. Less than one-third of one percent of dry cleaners operate with CO2 or 100% wet cleaning exclusively.
5. What is the regulatory outlook for dry cleaning and GreenEarth?
Dry cleaning is under increasing regulatory scrutiny. California’s ban on both the use of perc and the purchase of new perc machines is widely regarded as the beginning of the end of perc solvents. New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Toronto have similar bans under consideration. If the industry continues to drag its feet when it comes to adopting “more environment friendly alternatives”, regulators can be expected to grow increasingly concerned and increase legislative pressure. California’s Air Resources Board has declared GreenEarth an “acceptable dry cleaning solvent alternative” and “sees no need” to regulate use of liquid silicone in dry cleaning. GreenEarth meets and exceeds all regulatory requirements and regulations in all states.
6. Has there been much testing done on GreenEarth?
GreenEarth Cleaning is the only company to perform and openly report extensive testing on the environment and safety profile of its cleaning system. Over $30 million worth of independent testing and research has also been done on D5 liquid silicone to confirm that there are no risks to public safety resulting from its use in all of its many applications, including dry cleaning. GreenEarth Cleaning also underwrote a comprehensive 2002 IFI Fellowship Study which compared the GreenEarth system to the industry standard perc system. The IFI declared it to be “as effective as perc with no environmental concerns”. Independent waste stream and air exposure testing confirmed that liquid silicone as used in daily dry cleaning operation exceeds all federal, state and local requirements for water and air safety.
7. I’ve heard that GreenEarth causes cancer, is that true?
Absolutely not. This rumor dates back to 2004-2005 news coverage around the release of a voluntary 2-year bioassay study commissioned by Dow Corning, a manufacturer of D5. News reporters like to create controversy, and a preliminary finding of this study allowed them to do just that. Follow-up research was conducted that determined that D5 liquid silicone poses no risk to human health; however this research finding did not receive widespread news coverage. Here is what matters:
. The EPA does not recognize D5 silicone as a potential carcinogen or toxic air contaminant
. The EPA does not regulate the use of D5 in dry cleaning or any other application
. The California Air Resources Board conducted an extensive 18 month review of the health and safety research and ruled that use of D5 in dry cleaning does not pose an adverse health risk for the public
. More than 30 different studies on D5 demonstrate there is not a human health concern
. D5 is one of the most extensively studied materials in consumer applications
. D5 has been used safely for more than 40 years in many different applications
. D5 can be shipped without any “hazardous handling” requirements
8. What are the facts of the research?
As part of its commitment to the safe use of silicone, Dow Corning commissioned a two year Combined Chronic/Carcinogenicity Study on D5 liquid silicone. The study tested the effects of chronic inhalation of D5 at various levels of exposure for varying lengths of time, on male and female lab rats. None of the rats in the study were affected except for a small number of female rats in the test cell exposed at the highest possible exposure level for the longest possible time. Some of these rats developed pre-cancerous indicators, they did not develop cancer. The rats affected were the female rats exposed to the highest achievable vapor concentration of D5-160 ppm (parts per million)-six hours a day continuously for two years. By contrast, people who work in a dry cleaning plant are exposed at the lowest measurable vapor concentration of D5-1 ppm-during an eight-hour workday. What is important to understand is that the study was designed to test the potential effects of D5 as a chemical, not its safe use in a dry cleaning application.