Trump EPA To Leave Lethal Paint Stripper Chemical Legal for Workers

Contact: 
(202) 667-6982
For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

WASHINGTON –  The Trump administration is likely to allow methylene chloride, a dangerous chemical that can kill a person on contact, to remain an ingredient in paint stripper products for commercial use. The decision would be a significant retreat from a ban on the chemical for both commercial and consumer use proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency two years ago.

At the end of December, the EPA sent a draft final rule on methylene chloride to the White House Office of Management and Budget. The exact details of the draft rule are unknown, but it appears it would ban consumer uses of methylene chloride but allow its continued use for commercial purposes.

Separately, the EPA sent an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to OMB indicating that it plans to allow continued commercial use of methylene chloride with training and certification — even though workers are the most at risk. This rulemaking process would likely take years.

Exposure to methylene chloride has killed more than 50 people in recent decades.

“This proposal would still leave millions of people whose professions require them to handle paint strippers at risk of serious injury or even death,” said EWG Legislative Attorney Melanie Benesh. “This may fit with the Trump EPA’s approach of kowtowing to the chemical industry but will be a significant setback for public health protection.”

Public interest groups including EWG, Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families have called on the EPA to ban both commercial and consumer uses of paint strippers that contain the chemical. Several major retailers, including Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sherwin-Williams, Amazon and Walmart, have pledged to remove products containing the chemical from their shelves.

###

The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.