Shared from the 3/16/2019 The Denver Post eEdition
WASHINGTON» The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday banned consumer use of a popular but deadly paint stripper but stopped short of also banning commercial use of the product by tradespeople.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the rule, which will bar manufacture and import of the stripper methylene chloride for consumer use, in a private meeting Friday with relatives of a man who died while using the paint stripper.
The EPA cited “the acute fatalities that have resulted from exposure to the chemical” and an “unreasonable” risk to consumers. Retail stores have until later this year to remove the product from sale. Many big chains already stopped sale of products with methylene chloride in recent months, amid a campaign led by environmental groups and families of men overcome and killed by fumes from the paint stripper.
Goopy, strong-smelling products containing methylene chloride have been a goto product for do-it-yourselfers for decades. But fumes from the product can affect the central nervous system, sometimes causing dizziness, disorientation and death. The state of California says it has tracked at least five U.S. deaths from methylene chloride since 2014.
The dead include a 21-year-old worker, Kevin Hartley, who had training in use of the product, and Drew Wynne, a 31-year-old South Carolina man who was cleaning the floor of his startup coffee company. Both died in 2017.
Hartley’s and Wynne’s families had been among those pressing for the ban, which had been initiated by the Obama administration but then stalled by the Trump administration.
The EPA declined Friday to immediately extend the ban to commercial uses of the paint stripper.
Instead, it said it would consider whether to mandate training in use of methylene chloride or go on to ban commercial use of the solvent as well.