Four sites in San Luis Obispo have potentially dangerous levels of soil contamination from a toxic chemical used by dry cleaning companies for decades, according to documents from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Tetrachloroethylene — known as perc or PCE for short — was used to effectively clean clothes and is considered a “likely human carcinogen” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Decades after PCE was discovered to be leaching through the soil and into an underground aquifer the city of San Luis Obispo soon hopes to tap for drinking water, state agencies are planning to clean up the chemical contamination.
Officials have identified four San Luis Obispo sites where PCE soil contamination is prominent in levels of up to about 865 times above the safe limit. The most contaminated areas are under parking lots and adjacent to current and former dry cleaners, according to reports housed on the state agencies’ websites.
The agencies have taken soil and indoor air quality samples at those locations to determine whether the PCE pollution poses a health risk to those who frequent the areas. However, San Luis Obispo is the only city in San Luis Obispo County where the state has conducted a comprehensive investigation into possible PCE soil and air pollution from dry cleaners, which can be found in most local communities.