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American workers in the dry cleaning business and other industries who work around PCE (Tetrachloroethylene) may be at risk of chronic exposure and may develop related diseases and illnesses. PCE, or PERC, is frequently used in dry cleaning operations, and employees are urged to monitor their health conditions.

Tetrachloroethylene may also be inhaled from accidental spills or product use in small, enclosed spaces, and landfills in which it may have been disposed. PCE is released into the air and water by evaporation or emissions from industrial and dry-cleaning plants and may lead to toxic exposure.

Workers may be regularly exposed in specific workplaces, and employers have a responsibility to protect employees and provide a safe work environment. Should any employer fail in this regard and a worker falls ill as a result of workplace toxin exposure, an investigation may be necessary, a claim can be filed against the negligent company, and injured workers can be awarded proper compensation for related expenses and pain and suffering.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Toxic Tort Attorney, representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation claims.

Who is at Risk of PCE Exposure?

People with the greatest chance of being exposed are those who work with it on a daily basis. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), more than 650,000 U.S. workers may be exposed to PERC or PCE at the workplace.

Those most affected are likely in the dry cleaning business and industrial sites that may have levels of PCE higher than background levels. If a dry cleaning business has spilled or leaked PCE on the ground, there may also be contaminated groundwater, and entire communities may be at risk.

Breathing contaminated air and drinking water are the two most likely ways people are exposed to PCE. Tetrachloroethylene  enters the body when contaminated air is inhaled or when food or water is contaminated with the chemical and consumed.

If PCE is trapped against the skin, it can pass through into the body. Dermal contact may be a route of PCE exposure in the workplace and among the general public. However, the chemical is less easily absorbed through the skin than through inhalation and oral exposure routes.

Understanding PCE (Tetrachloroethylene)

PCE (Tetrachloroethylene), also known as PERC or perchloroethylene, is a man-made chemical widely used for dry cleaning clothes and degreasing metal. It is also used to make other chemicals and can be found in some household products such as water repellents, silicone lubricants, spot removers, adhesives and wood cleaners.

PCE easily evaporates into the air and has a sharp, sweet odor. People can be exposed to PCE from household products, dry cleaning products and at the workplace. PERC can evaporate into the air during dry cleaning operations and during industrial use. It can also evaporate into the air if it is not properly stored or is spilled. If it is spilled or leaked on the ground, it may contaminate groundwater.

PERC Exposure Cancer

Any symptoms of PCE exposure and development of a related illness will depend on the dose, the duration and frequency of exposure. As a general rule, young children, the elderly and people with chronic health issues are more at risk to chemical exposures.

Exposure to high concentrations of PCE in closed, poorly ventilated areas can cause dizziness, headache, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, difficulty in speaking and walking, unconsciousness and even death. Skin irritation may result from repeated or extended contact.

A U.S. National Toxicology Program Report on Carcinogens noted that PCE has been shown to cause liver tumors and kidney tumors in animal studies. The results of one study suggests that the risk of epilepsy and cervical cancer may be increased among adults exposed to PCE-contaminated drinking water during gestation and early childhood. Occupational studies show PERC exposure can have long-term harmful health effects on the vision or may cause bladder cancer. 

Preventing PERC Exposure 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that PCE be handled as a potential carcinogen and that levels in workplaces should be kept as low as possible. If you suspect exposure, medical professionals can test for PCE exposure by measuring the amount of the chemical in the breath. Because PCE is stored in the body’s fat and slowly released into the bloodstream, it can be detected for weeks following a heavy exposure. It can also be detected in the blood.

No medical treatment can remove PCE from the body, but the body does break down and remove these chemicals over time in most cases. Avoiding any toxic exposure is recommended.


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Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.


The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

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A Voice for Those who have suffered 

Why are these cases important?

Toxic exposure cases help empower employees to fight for their right to be protected, satisfactorily informed, and to stay safe. They also bring awareness to challenge and higher the expectations of companies who are not serving their employees justly.


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Our Victories

The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law. 


(Hamilton County, Ohio): Confidential Settlement. Lead Counsel in a case that involved secondary lead exposure to two children. Their father worked at a local recycling plant that routinely recycled computer equipment. The company violated numerous OSHA regulations related to providing safety equipment and clothing to prevent lead particles from being transferred home. As a result, the Plaintiffs father transferred lead dust to his children who then suffered lead poisoning. The case was covered extensively by the Cincinnati news media and referenced in peer-reviewed medical literature. The settlement will provide educational needs to the children who suffered neurological injuries due the exposure.