Environmental groups sue EPA in bid to ban toxic paint strippers

Environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a bid to ban the sale toxic paint strippers.

Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and related groups argue that the agency hasn’t taken sufficient action even though the Toxic Substances Control Act compels the EPA to prohibit paint strippers that contain methylene chloride.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency knows that methylene chloride is killing workers, and it knows that only a ban will protect them," Earthjustice attorney Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, the main lawyer on the case, said in a Tuesday statement. "Yet the Trump administration is so beholden to the chemical industry that it has chosen to leave workers and consumers in harm’s way."

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“If more than 50 coroner's reports are not enough to get EPA to ban one of the most dangerous chemicals on the market, what is?” he added.

The EPA formally determined in January 2017 that methylene chloride presents an “unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment,” a finding that triggers regulatory action under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

But despite then-EPA chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA halts surprise inspections of power, chemical plants| EPA allows continued use of pesticide linked with brain damage| New York awards country's largest offshore wind energy contracts EPA allows continued use of pesticide linked with brain damage Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade MORE’s public pledge to move toward further regulating the substances in 2018, the agency has not proposed a ban, leading to accusations that the EPA has been dragging its feet.

The agency completed a proposed rule on methylene chloride in December 2018, and sent it to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, the final step before it can be released to the public.

Long-term exposure to methylene chloride, often by workers who use it to strip paint, has been linked to liver and lung cancer. It’s also been blamed on acute illnesses and multiple deaths.