DCM (Methylene chloride)

TSCA Ten: Snapshots of the first 10 chemicals to be reviewed under the new TSCA

Summary: An overhaul in 2016 of the main U.S. chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, required EPA to choose the first 10 chemicals for risk evaluation. DCM, one of the first 10 chemicals, is commonly used in paint and coating removal products but is also found in automotive products, adhesives, degreasers, and more. DCM is acutely lethal, and EPA has classified it as a likely carcinogen.

In January 2017, EPA proposed a rule to ban most uses of DCM in paint and coating removal products. For over a year, the current administration made no effort to finalize this action - until families whose sons died from using paint strippers containing DCM met with former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May 2018. Immediately following, Pruitt announced his intention to finalize the ban, but we still have seen no action.

What kinds of products may use it?

  • Paints and coatings including paint and coating removers
  • Degreasers for metal cleaning
  • Adhesives and sealants
  • Aerosol propellants (such as spray paints)
  • Cleaning and furniture care
  • Automotive care
  • Laundry and dishwashing

What hazards does it pose?

  • Likely human carcinogen 
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Liver toxicity 
  • Moderately persistent in the environment

Who may be exposed or most at risk?

  • Workers and occupational bystanders in methylene chloride manufacturing and processing industries
  • Workers using commercial products, such as paint stripping in bathtub and furniture refinishing
  • Consumers using DCM containing products
  • People that depend on water sources contaminated with DCM
  • People that live near industrial or commercial facilities that use DCM

Production profile (2015)

  • U.S. manufacture (production and import): 263,971,494 lbs
  • Number of manufacturers: at least 16
  • Number of manufacturing sites: 21

What industries use it?

  • Construction
  • Refrigerant gas manufacturing
  • Polyurethane foam manufacturing
  • Textile and leather treatment and cleaning
  • Drilling and extraction purposes for oil and gas
  • Chemicals and plastic manufacturing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Solvent extraction for food products such as spices and oils
  • Used in machinery lubricants

DCM additional resources