EPA Bans Use of Chemical Used as a Paint Stripper

The chemical is known to cause liver cancer and other health problems.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

May 1, 2024

2 Min Read
EPA bans most uses of chemical used as paint stripper
Ole_CNX / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

The US Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday banned most uses of a toxic chemical that is used as a paint stripper. 

Long-term exposure to the chemical, methylene chloride, can cause cancers of the liver, lung, breast, brain, blood, and central nervous system.

The EPA said its action will protect Americans from health risks while allowing certain commercial uses to continue with robust worker protections.

The rule banning methylene chloride is the second risk management rule to be finalized by the Biden administration under landmark 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act. The first was an action last month to ban asbestos, a carcinogen that kills tens of thousands of Americans every year but is still used in some chlorine bleach, brake pads, and other products.

Most recently, the administration announced a rule limiting PFAS in drinking water and set rules for industrial toxic emissions.

“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,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

The new rule, he said, “brings an end to unsafe methylene chloride practices and implements the strongest worker protections possible for the few remaining industrial uses, ensuring no one in this country is put in harm’s way by this dangerous chemical.”

All consumer uses of methylene chloride will be barred, as will most industrial uses, but it will still be allowed to be used in producing other chemicals and electric vehicle battery components, and in plastic and rubber manufacturing. 

These uses will continue with restrictions including worker exposure limits, monitoring requirements and employee training requirements. 

ACC Comments

The American Chemistry Council has responded to the methylene chloride ban:

“Methylene chloride is a critical chemical used in many industrial and commercial applications. Among other things, it is used as a chemical intermediate to manufacture low global warming potential (l-GWP) refrigerants.

“While we are evaluating the risk management rule in detail, we appreciate that EPA will continue to allow the safe use of methylene chloride in various critical industrial and commercial applications while complying with workplace protection requirements. Today's final rule illustrates that EPA considered several of the significant comments the agency received from industry and other stakeholders as it finalizes the rule, and we welcome the EPA’s continued engagement with the stakeholder community to ensure that the best available data and information are the foundation for risk management actions.

“ACC continues to be disappointed with EPA’s approach to establishing occupational exposure limits. EPA’s underlying methodology to derive occupational exposure limits remains flawed and out of step with how occupational exposure limits are established globally. EPA’s methodology and approach need to be revised before being applied in subsequent risk management rules. Without making these improvements, these limits will be unworkable, unmeetable examples of unnecessary overregulation. 

ACC said it is committed to work with EPA as stakeholders move into the compliance phase and on improving EPA’s approach to regulating worker safety.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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