Federal agencies Workplace exposures

EPA: Ban on methylene chloride in paint stripping to move forward

removing paint from tub

Photo: California Department of Public Health

Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency intends to finalize a proposed ban on the use of methylene chloride in paint stripping, the agency announced May 10.

EPA issued the proposed rule in January 2017. An agency assessment three years earlier determined that exposure to methylene chloride may cause cancer and harm the central nervous system, in addition to other adverse health effects.

EPA plans to submit the rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget “shortly,” a press release states.

According to a 2015 report from the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based investigative journalism organization, unintentional exposure to methylene chloride has contributed to at least 56 deaths since 1980, with many involving paint stripping.

OSHA has alerted workers of the dangers of methylene chloride through its Fatal Facts series, advising employers to use safer alternatives such as water- and vegetable-based products, when available. OSHA issued a Methylene Chloride Standard in 1997.

The chemical is among the first 10 EPA is tasked with evaluating for potential health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.

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