Ban on consumer use of chemical found in paint strippers goes into effect

Ban on consumer use of chemical found in paint strippers goes into effect
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Starting on Saturday, consumers will no longer be able to handle or purchase products containing the chemical methylene chloride, found often in paint strippers.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March announced it would be banning all consumer sales of the chemical, which has been linked to a number of child and worker deaths.

“EPA’s action keeps paint and coating removers that contain the chemical methylene chloride out of consumers’ hands,” EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerEPA to resume contract negotiations with employee union Overnight Energy: Critics call EPA air guidance 'an industry dream' | New Energy secretary says Trump wants to boost coal | EPA looks to speed approval of disputed industry pollution permits Latest EPA guidance weakens air protections in favor of industry, critics say MORE said in a statement Friday. 

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“It is against the law to sell or distribute methylene chloride for paint and coating removal in the retail marketplace — a step that will provide important public health protections for consumers.”

Prior to the EPA’s decision, a number of big box stores, including Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes, had already moved to ban products containing methylene chloride.

The EPA’s decision stops short of a full ban, leaving the door open for commercial sales of the chemical to industry. Instead, the agency is considering future programs for workers, including training certification and a limited access program for industry use of the substance.

Advocacy groups denounced the decision to keep open the door for commercial use of the chemical, arguing that work-related deaths from the substance have been common and will leave workers open to health risks.

“The Trump administration will be partly to blame when the next worker is injured or dies as a result of being exposed to this extremely dangerous chemical,” said Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group, in March.