The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a rule prohibiting the manufacture, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride in all paint removers for consumer use, according to a news release. The EPA first proposed banning the chemical in January 2017, determining the chemical placed consumers, workers, and bystanders at "unreasonable risk of injury." The chemical has been linked to more than 60 deaths since 1980 and is linked to lung cancer, liver cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity.
“This rule answers calls from many affected families to effectively remove these products from retail shelves and retail distribution channels, providing protection for the American public,” EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety Alexandra Dunn said in a public statement.
In addition to the links to cancer and toxicity, short-term exposures to methylene chloride fumes can also rapidly cause dizziness, loss of consciousness, and death due to nervous system depression. According to the EPA, a variety of similarly effective and less harmful substitutes are readily available for paint removal.
Paint removal products containing the chemical will not be able to be sold at any retail or distribution establishments that have consumer sales, including e-commerce sales. The prohibitions begin 180 days after the effective date of the final rule to allow retail establishments time to come into compliance with the ban. Numerous retailers, including Menards, Walmart, Home Depot, Sherwin-Williams, and AutoZone, stopped purchasing paint removers with the dangerous chemicals prior to the final ruling from the EPA.
The EPA ruling also requires manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and other supply chains of the bans and to keep basic records.