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Environment & Energy Report

EPA Bans Consumer Use of Methylene Chloride Paint Stripper

Nov. 22, 2019, 6:26 PM

A retail ban on the sale of methylene chloride paint strippers takes effect Nov. 23, the EPA announced.

Methylene chloride is a potentially lethal chemical found in paint stripping products. It has been shown to release toxic fumes that can turn to carbon monoxide in the lungs.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a final rule to prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution, as well as import of methylene chloride in consumer paint removers last March.

“EPA’s action keeps paint and coating removers that contain the chemical methylene chloride out of consumers’ hands,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement Nov. 22, announcing that the ban would take effect Nov. 23. “It is against the law to sell or distribute methylene chloride for paint and coating removal in the retail marketplace—a step that will provide important public health protections for consumers.”

The agency said a variety of effective, less harmful substitutes are readily available for paint removal.

Exposing Workers?

Chemical safety activists have criticized the agency for not extending the ban to include products used for commercial uses, potentially leaving workers exposed to deadly products. Methylene chloride been linked to more than 50 deaths since the 1980s.

In January 2017 the outgoing Obama administration concluded that methylene chloride represented an “unreasonable risk” and sought to ban it from commercial as well as consumer use.

“EPA’s draft evaluation makes clear that consumers and workers face serious and imminent risks of death and incapacitating neurotoxic effects from short-term exposure to methylene chloride,” according to a statement from environmental health advocate Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Allington in Washington at aallington@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Chuck McCutcheon at cmccutcheon@bloombergenvironment.com