Lowe's commits to phasing out chemical products linked to cancer

Lowe's commits to phasing out chemical products linked to cancer
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Home improvement retailer Lowe's will soon be ridding all of its stores of products carrying a toxic chemical known to cause cancer.

The company announced Tuesday it will soon phase out all products, including paints and paint thinners, that contain the toxic chemical methylene chloride. The change will occur throughout its global market by the end of the year.

The chemical, commonly found in paint thinners and metal cleaning products, can affect the central nervous systems of those who come in contact with it. Long exposure can at times lead to liver cancer. The chemical has been linked to dozens of deaths.

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“We care deeply about the health and safety of our customers, and great progress is being made in the development of safer and more effective alternatives,” said Mike McDermott, chief customer officer at Lowe’s, in a statement. “As a home improvement leader, we recognize the need for viable paint removal products and remain committed to working closely with suppliers to further innovate in this category.”

Additionally, the company said in a statement it will be actively working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "lead change in the industry."

The decision by Lowe's comes at a time where the federal government appears to be slow rolling a decision on whether to ban the chemical. The agency under the final days of the Obama administration proposed a rule to ban paint strippers containing the chemicals, but the Trump administration has yet to follow through with the proposal. 

In December, the proposed bans were dropped from administration’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, but in March it signaled that it would follow through with the ban announcing that it won't reverse the Obama administration findings that enumerated various harms from exposure to the paint-stripping chemical.

The announcement that the EPA “is not re-evaluating the paint stripping uses of methylene chloride and is relying on its previous risk assessments” was a welcome sign for environmental and health advocates who had suspected that the Trump administration would go soft on the substance.