EPA Stripping the Hazards from Paint Strippers

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On March 15, 2019, the EPA issued a final rule that will ban the retail sale of methylene chloride containing products for consumer uses.  Methylene chloride is a solvent that is currently, but not for much longer, commonly found in consumer paint and furniture strippers.  It is sold by hardware stores and home improvement retailers.

The EPA’s action is based on the adverse effects to consumers using methylene chloride.  It has been documented that short-term exposure to methylene chloride vapors can cause dizziness, loss of consciousness and death resulting from nervous system depression.

The new rule defines a retailer as any person or entity that sells paint and coating removal products to consumers, including sales through the internet.  For a distributor not to be considered a retailer, he/she must distribute methylene chloride-containing paint and coating removal products solely to commercial or industrial end users or businesses.  The new rule does not apply to commercial use of this chemical.

The rule also requires manufacturers, processors and distributors of methylene chloride, to provide downstream users with notice of this ban.  Material safety data sheets provided with the methylene chloride product must indicate that this chemical cannot be distributed in commerce for consumer use.

Given that the rule will not apply to the industrial use (i.e., workplace use) of methylene chloride, it is imperative that employers using this chemical take precautions to protect their employees from the toxic effects of this chemical.  To obtain more information regarding protections that should be in place to protect employees from workplace exposures to methylene chloride visit OSHA.gov.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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