Dry Cleaning Fumes

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Thursday 10 July 2008 4.30pm
Hi there everyone,

I've recently moved to a lovely flat above a dry cleaners in SE1 - never even gave a second thought to the fact that it was above a dry cleaners, it's relatively quiet and closed in the evenings so no bother there.

The only problem is since we've moved in I've had pretty much a constant headache, really bloodshot eyes
and have generally felt 'not that great'. I'm reluctant to sound hysterical, but am quite worried that the fumes from downstairs are the cause of this - of course, it might just be that im adjusting to living in a new area (last flat was in a v quiet, leafy close, this is on a busy main road). We can clearly see the fumes coming out of the ventilation shaft downstairs, which comes out just below our kitchen window, and sometimes we can actually smell it quite strongly in the kitchen.

Obviously there's not much we can do as we've signed a year's tenancy, but i was wondering if anyone can advise me on my rights with regards to making sure that the dry cleaners is operating safely, and that my landlord is doing everything he can to make the property as safe as possible for his tenants (eg the property is only single glazed, which doesnt help matters).

Any help or advice would be much appreciated,and also reassurance if anyone thinks im over-reacting or being hysterical :-)

Thursday 10 July 2008 4.43pm
Hi Emma,

Welcome to SE1.

First thing I'd do is have a chat with these guys:


They should be able to tell you what the rules and regs are surrounding fumes from dry cleaners. The dry cleaners may not be doing anything wrong, but it's worth having a poke around to find out.

The fumes given off by dry cleaners are really nasty, but are your sure there is no other source for your not feeling well? Maybe your room is too hot, dusty, etc. or maybe the general pollution levels are a bit higher than where you lived before (it took me a while to get used to living on Baker St. back when I lived in central london).

Hope you find out the cause.

Thursday 10 July 2008 4.53pm
I think you probably have a point. Do you notice any difference when the wind is in another direction? How close are the vents to your windows?
Friday 11 July 2008 8.13am
A casual search with Google suggests you need to take this seriously.
Friday 11 July 2008 12.32pm
several years ago a couple died after having a duvet cleaned and putting straight on their bed from the polythene bag and then going to bed, sorry to worry you, but i would rather worry you than say nowt and have anything happen to you..:-) the p.m. showed the fumes released caused death..
Friday 11 July 2008 1.39pm
Great, thanks for that guys, i'll try not to worry too much :-S !

Well we're having double glazing installed soon and the landlord has assured me the building conforms to health and safety as he owns the whole building including the drycleaners (vents being at least 3m away from any windows etc) so I guess I'll see how it goes.

Am also going to get carbon monoxide detectors etc although the boiler's been recently serviced.

I'll also think twice before having my duvet dry-cleaned ;-(
Friday 11 July 2008 2.52pm
Emma sorry about the duvet bit! if you do have one cleaned you have to hang it either near a window/outside in the garden for some time, then use it..:-)
i feel a right plonker someone who lurks on this sight has just told me i must have frighted the bejesus out of you (noreen!)

does the landlord live on the premises?
Friday 11 July 2008 3.13pm
No, which makes me think it's all very well for him to say that it conforms to health and safety. He has said he will extend the ventilation pipe upwards so it doesnt come out just outside our window but quite a way above it.

I must admit, im starting to wish id never started this thread, lol! Thanks for all your advice though :-)

Emma x
Friday 11 July 2008 4.17pm
Emma, the landlord WOULD say that wouldnt he? Please do get independent advice. The Landlord wont be happy about having to spend money (they never are) and he certainly wont be keen about being clobbered for infringeing H&S regs. Dont leave it - call the Council and get them to come round.
Friday 11 July 2008 7.13pm
I think your issue is with the dry cleaners and not the landlord - and really your landlord should be the one chasing the issue. Anyway, Environmental Health will only grant the cleaners a licence to operate their business if they meet H&S criteria.

Get the council to check them out - a threatened closure by the council will do wonders to get things put right to your satisfaction!!!
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