Methylene chloride although an effective paint stripping chemical is now known to be very toxic and has no business in retail. The chemical enters the body when inhaled and can be absorbed through unprotected skin. It can immediately irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Direct contact can cause severe burns to the skin and eyes. Even small exposures are harmful over time as they can damage the liver, kidneys and nerves, and can cause cancer.
The ban on methylene chloride in removers sold in the USA and Canada was first proposed in
January 2017. Since then, at least four people have died using the products. In enclosed areas, the fumes build up, putting users at risk of death by asphyxiation. The chemical has also been shown to cause heart attacks. A 2015 investigation by the Center for Public Integrity cited at least 56 deaths in the United States alone since 1980 which were linked to methylene chloride.
“I was shocked. I mean, how is it that you can find something that will kill you instantly and, buy it, just off the shelf?” said Brian Wynne. His brother Drew died last year while resurfacing a floor in South Carolina while using the product “Goof Off.”
Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Walmart, Amazon, Sherwin Williams and other smaller retail chains have said they will begin phasing out sales of these products by the end of 2018. The popular retail chains also promised to stop selling paint removers with an ingredient, often known as NMP, that research suggests could reduce fertility and endanger unborn children.
Some product manufacturers have addressed the issue by removing methylene chloride only to put in toluene and methanol, both linked to birth defects. A 2015 report released by a safer-chemical organization called BizNGO classified toluene and methanol as “high concern.”
A new formulation that avoids those chemicals was developed by the UK company Eco Solutions and has been made available in North America by the Canadian company EZ Strip. This water based formula provides excellent paint stripping capabilities while also being user friendly. EZ Strip's skin safe low VOC gel cleans up with just water and is biodegradable so it's safe to dispose in your regular household garbage.