Energy & Environment

Walmart becomes latest retailer to ban chemicals found in paint strippers

Walmart is joining the growing list of retailers that are banning paint strippers that contain two controversial chemicals tied to cancer.

The chain announced Monday that it will no longer sell products carrying paint strippers that contain methylene chloride and N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) starting in February.

The decision follows in the footsteps of retailers Home Depot, Lowe's and Sherman Williams, which all announced a similar move this year.

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

The removal of the products will cover all of Walmart's stores in the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Central America.

"At Walmart, we are committed to providing our customers with access to affordable, effective and more sustainable products. We will continue to work with suppliers, NGOs, academics, government and industry stakeholders as we advance our sustainable chemistry commitments," Zach Freeze, senior director of strategic initiatives for sustainability at Walmart, said in a statement.

Last year, Walmart joined an effort to track chemicals in goods it sells, including household cleaners, baby and pet care, and beauty products.

The Environmental Protection Agency during 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 the administration's Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. But in March, the agency signaled that it would follow through with the ban, announcing that it won't reverse the Obama administration's findings.

In May, the EPA under then-head Scott Pruitt announced that it "intends to finalize" a ban on the chemical but no ban has yet been introduced.

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