EPA Once Again Reviews Ban on Paint Stripper Chemical Methylene Chloride


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reconsidering a proposed ban of methylene chloride, a paint stripping chemical that was scheduled to be banned in early 2017.

Methylene chloride is considered potentially deadly after it was suspected to have caused dozens of deaths.   Methylene chloride is listed as a Proposition 65 carcinogen, and is used in large scale paint stripping operations such as stripping paint from commercial aircraft and ships.

However, earlier this year, “CBS This Morning” reported that the Trump administration would not continue the ban first proposed by EPA under the Obama administration. In the first proposal, methylene chloride was considered an “unreasonable risk.”

The EPA announced on Thursday last week that they will continue the evaluation report by the Obama administration in 2016 about the hazards posed by exposure to methylene chloride.  Then they will send the report to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

EPA’s announcement was praised by environmental and safety advocates who favor the ban because methylene chloride can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, coma, suffocation and death.

The Hill reports that Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., also welcomed the news. He said that the chemical is dangerous because “it has killed dozens of people even when they were wearing protective gear.”

Sarah Vogel of the Enviornmental Defense Fund said that taking the deadly paint strippers with methylene chloride off the shelves is “long past time to do the right thing.”

In April, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt told lawmakers in a hearing that a decision on the ban could be reached this year, according to The Hill.

Pruitt met this week with Cyndy Wynne and Wendy Hartley, two of the mothers included in the report. Their sons died from exposure to methylene chloride.  Families of the other victims were also featured on “CBS This Morning.”

Richard Denison of the Environmental Defense Fund said that the families’ stories helped in the appeal to ban the dangerous chemical.

Although they are cautiously optimistic of the latest development, the family members of the victims said that they will continue to put pressure on EPA until methylene chloride is banned in consumer and industrial products.

Methylene Chloride, also known as Dichloromethane is an industrial grade paint stripper and degreaser often used on commercial aircraft and ships.

The chemical was listed as a Proposition 65 carcinogen in April 1988. The No Significant Risk Level for methylene chloride is 50 micrograms per day, and 200 micrograms per day for exposure by inhalation.

Methylene Chloride is also used as an extraction agent for flavorings and to decaffeinate coffee and tea; aerosol propellant and blowing agent for polyurethane foams; manufacture of pharmaceuticals, film coatings, and electronics extraction agent for flavorings and to decaffeinate coffee and tea; aerosol propellant and blowing agent for polyurethane foams; manufacture of pharmaceuticals, film coatings, and electronics.

About Jack Schatz

Jack Schatz began writing about Proposition 65 and other U.S. environmental laws in 1994. He has also written extensively about Consumer Product safety and product liability issues as well. He is the publisher and co-author of the 2013 and 2017 and upcoming 2020 editions of the Proposition 65 Handbook.He was graduated by the San Diego State School of Journalism.
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