The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suggested prohibiting the production and use by private persons of paint strippers that contain methylene chloride (also called dichloromethane) and has drafted a corresponding regulation under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The agency will soon send the draft to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as indicated in its press release.
Methylene chloride is an outstanding solvent for resins, fats, plastics, and asphalt. It can also serve as a paint stripper and a degreasing agent. Nevertheless, the dangers of the substance have been known for some time. Workers exposed to the substance have a higher risk of contracting cancer and liver disease. That’s why the administration of President Obama proposed an appropriate rule, but its approval has been delayed.
After recent deaths caused by use of methylene chloride, NGOs began campaigns and called upon building supply stores to stop selling paint strippers that contain methylene chloride. They were successful. Just two days after a meeting of EPA director Scott Pruitt with NGO members and the families of those who died from
illnesses related to methylene chloride, the EPA decided to act. It stopped plans for a reevaluation of
methylene chloride as originally requested by representatives of the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance (HSIA).
In the EU, the use of methylene chloride in paint strippers by private persons and commercial entities
is forbidden by Decision 455/2009/EC of the European Parliament as of May 6, 2009. Industrial uses are exceptions. Effective December 6, 2012, all paint strippers that contain methylene chloride and are used
industrially must be labeled accordingly.
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