United States: A hazardous chemical used in paint strippers that is said to be the leading cause of 85 US deaths in the last five decades will be phased out for many of its uses, under an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule finalized on Tuesday. 

Cancer-causing solvent, methylene chloride, will be granted some continued uses, though there are strict safety protocols enacted to protect the workers against exposure. 

EPA Officials statements 

“Exposure to methylene chloride has devastated families across this country for too long, including some who saw loved ones go to work and never come home,” Michael Regan, EPA Administrator, said, as US News reported. 

“EPA’s final action brings an end to unsafe methylene chloride practices and implements the strongest worker protections possible for the few remaining industrial uses, ensuring no one in this country is put in harm’s way by this dangerous chemical,” he added. 

EPA Phases Out Deadly Paint Stripper Chemical, Methylene Chloride.
EPA Phases Out Deadly Paint Stripper Chemical, Methylene Chloride.

An Environmental health advocacy group Toxic-Free Future praised the move, however also noted that the move took long to have a concrete shape. 

The chemical was initially put on the EPA’s “first ten chemicals” for review almost eight years ago. 

About a case of death from methylene chloride 

In one case, where Joshua, who was Lauren Atkins’ son, lost his life while using a coating remover that contained methylene chloride. 

Atkins said, “I fought this fight for my son, Joshua. This fight never should have had to happen, and never should have taken this long. Methylene chloride should never have been on the market,” as US News reported. 

In another case, Wendy Hartley states, “My son, Kevin, died in 2017 from methylene chloride exposure from refinishing a bathtub at work,” and, “I am pleased that the EPA is finally taking action and banning methylene chloride as a commercial bathtub stripper. This is a huge step that will protect vulnerable workers.” 

Know more about Methylene chloride  

Methylene chloride is usually used in commercial strippers for paints, but it can be found in metal degreasers, aerosol, adhesives, and in the production of paints and finishes of some pharmaceuticals, according to the United States Environmental Agency. 

Nevertheless, it can make people who are exposed to this chemical to be sick when this chemical enters the mouth or is inhaled. The hazard of the lethal methylene chloride fumes rises up when the cooking space is tight and not enough ventilation is provided. 

In the initial stage, low concentrations of the fumes result in dizziness and numbness in the limbs. However, in the latter stage of inhalation, when the concentration of fumes increases, the breathing part of the brain may lose function. 


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