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USA: EPA Implements Ban on Liver Cancer-Causing Chemical in Paint Strippers

April 30, 2024



The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Tuesday the finalization of a ban on consumer uses of methylene chloride, a chemical commonly employed as a paint stripper. This move comes in response to mounting concerns over its link to liver cancer and other severe health issues.

“EPA Administrator Michael Regan expressed the urgency of the situation, stating, “Exposure to methylene chloride has devastated families across this country for too long, including some who saw loved ones go to work and never come home.”

The EPA’s action, which marks the second risk management rule to be concluded under President Joe Biden’s administration, seeks to safeguard Americans from the hazards posed by methylene chloride, while permitting specific commercial applications to continue under stringent worker protections.

Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Michal Freedhoff, clarified, “The rule banning methylene chloride prohibits all consumer uses but allows certain ‘critical’ uses in the military and industrial processing, with worker protections in place.”

Despite the EPA’s measures, the chemical industry contends that the risks associated with methylene chloride have been overstated and that adequate protections have been implemented to mitigate health risks. The American Chemistry Council, the industry’s leading advocacy group, labeled methylene chloride “an essential compound” used in various everyday products, including paint stripping, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and metal cleaning.

However, Wendy Hartley, who tragically lost her son Kevin to methylene chloride poisoning, welcomed the EPA’s decision, emphasizing its potential to protect vulnerable workers. Kevin Hartley, 21, lost his life in 2017 after being exposed to the chemical while refinishing a bathtub at work. Wendy Hartley expressed gratitude for the EPA’s actions, stating, “Kevin’s death will continue to save lives.”

The EPA’s finalized risk management rule mandates companies to swiftly phase down the production, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride for all consumer uses and most industrial and commercial applications, including in home renovations. Consumer use is slated to be phased out within a year, with most industrial and commercial uses prohibited within two years.

This move is anticipated to significantly reduce the widespread use of methylene chloride and mitigate the risks it poses to both consumers and workers alike.



Credit: AP

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