Regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride in all paint strippers for consumer use. The ban officially went into effect November 22, according to an agency news release. The regulations make it illegal for any person or retailer to sell or distribute paint removal products with the chemical, including e-commerce sales.
“EPA’s action keeps paint and coating removers that contain the chemical methylene chloride out of consumers’ hands,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a public statement. “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.”
The EPA first proposed banning the chemical in January 2017, determining the chemical placed consumers, workers, and bystanders at "unreasonable risk of injury." Methylene chloride has been linked to more than 60 deaths since 1980 and research has shown links to lung and liver cancer, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity. In addition to links to cancer and toxicity, short-term exposures to methylene chloride fumes can rapidly cause dizziness, loss of consciousness, and death due to nervous system depression.
The EPA announced its decision to ban the chemical in March, but a grace period was allowed for retailers and other parties to sunset products containing the product out of circulation. According to the EPA, a variety of "effective, less harmful" substitutes are available for paint removal.
Prior to the EPA's official ban of paint strippers containing methlyene chloride, many retailers, including home-improvement retailers Menards, Home Depot, and Lowe's, stopped buying paint removers with the chemical. Menards also stopped purchasing paint strippers containing N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP).