Woman claims chemicals from former dry cleaner made her sick

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The EPA has identified another spot where a former dry cleaner used to operate that could have soil contaminated by chemicals.

Sharri Schmidt owned Sharrie's Discount Art Supplies for 12 years.

The store was right where the former Custom Cleaners used to be for almost 50 years.

"Turns out 50 years of chemicals in the building had accumulated in the soil, in the air and I was breathing in the air," Schmidt said.

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency designated the spot on Southern a "Superfund" location, which means it has high levels of pollutants.

In this case, that means PERC or perchloroethylene, a chemical commonly used by dry cleaners to clean clothes.

Doctors told Schmidt her years of exposure to it made her sick.

"We did not carry any chemicals," Schmidt said. "We got artists to use safer products and behind my back, I was being poisoned."

The EPA was on-site taking soil samples to find out how high the toxicity levels at the location are.

On Thursday, they held an informational meeting less than a mile from the site to educate people who live nearby about what they've found and what the future of the site could be.

"That is always our goal is to make that property reusable as soon as we can, but at this point, it is hard to determine how long that is going to take," said EPA representative McKenzie Mallary.

The EPA plans on returning to Memphis in about nine months with a plan on how to clean up the former Custom Cleaners location.

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