Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Methylene chloride in paint strippers: A ban is the only health-protective path forward

Under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to perform risk evaluations on the uses of ten specific chemicals, including methylene chloride. 

According to the EPA, it is nearing completion of problem formulations for these first ten chemicals. EPA's announcement states that it will send a final methylene chloride rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "shortly." EPA also notes that is not reevaluating the paint stripping uses of methylene chloride, and instead is relying on its previous risk assessment done in 2014. The EPA identified the risks posed by methylene chloride when it is used in paint removers in a final risk assessment available for review here TSCA-work-plan-chemical-risk-assessment 

On May 10, 2018, the EPA announced several upcoming actions on methylene chloride and has signaled it will advance a delayed rule regulating consumer and worker use of methylene chloride-based paint strippers. The record for EPA’s proposed ban is clear:  Allowing such products to stay on the market based on reliance on such factors as increased labeling, protective equipment, or training requirements simply will not protect the public’s or workers’ health. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) guidance recommending additional labeling falls far short of what is needed for several additional reasons:

First, the guidance is not legally binding.

Second, CPSC only has authority over consumers, not workers; yet the latter is the sub-population most often reported to be harmed through use of methylene chloride-containing paint and coating removal products. In a June 2016 letter to EPA, CPSC supported EPA's efforts to use TSCA to promulgate a ban: "Because TSCA gives EPA the ability to reach both occupational and consumer uses, we recognize that EPA may address risks associated with these chemicals in a more cohesive and coordinated manner given that CPSC lacks authority to address occupational hazards.

Third, labeling is of extremely limited efficacy in controlling exposure.  CPSC’s guidance recognizes the limits of labeling: “Warnings research demonstrates that even small inconveniences to the consumer can have a substantial negative effect on behavioral compliance with a warning.” EPA’s proposed ban clearly indicated and extensively documented that labeling would be insufficient to mitigate the risks posed by these uses of methylene chloride to consumers and workers.

The Environmental Defense Fund is encouraged by EPA’s statement last week that it has decided move forward to finalize its proposed rule banning methylene chloride in paint stripping products.  We urge EPA to promptly finalize its ban – which is the only way to adequately protect public and worker health.

Find safe paint stripping alternatives that don't put you or your family at risk. Follow this link for the number one safest DIY friendly paint removal option here EZstrip.ca

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