EPA Bans Most Uses of Toxic Methylene Chloride

Long-awaited Action Will Save Lives of Workers and Eliminate All Consumer Uses

April 30, 2024
Cecile Brown, (202) 271-6534, cebrown@edf.org

(Washington, DC – April 30, 2024) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final rule to ban all consumer and most commercial uses of the toxic chemical methylene chloride under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Methylene chloride is an industrial solvent that is commonly used in paint and coating removers, as well as in many everyday products used by consumers and businesses like automotive cleaners, adhesives, and degreasers.

The new rule comes seven years after the death of Kevin Hartley, who was exposed to methylene chloride while refinishing a bathtub at work. EDF supported his mother, Wendy, as she pursued this long overdue action to ban most commercial uses of methylene chloride paint strippers, which has caused dozens of worker deaths in the bathtub and furniture refinishing industries.  

“I have fought since that day to get this deadly chemical out of the workplace to make sure no other mother has to experience what I did. Today I am heartened to see EPA is finally banning methylene chloride as a commercial bathtub stripper once and for all,” Wendy Hartley said.

The 2016 Lautenberg Act reforms to TSCA, the nation’s main chemical safety law, gave EPA the tools necessary to review and regulate toxic chemicals through a health-based safety standard. In 2019, EPA finalized a limited ban on methylene chloride in paint strippers for consumer uses, thanks to the courageous efforts by families that lost loved ones and many others, but that rule failed to protect workers because the previous administration removed a proposed ban on commercial uses.

“For decades, alongside families directly harmed by toxic chemicals, EDF and numerous partners worked to improve the law so that the federal government could better protect people from the deadly risks toxic chemicals like methylene chloride present,” said Sarah Vogel, Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities at Environmental Defense Fund.

While today’s action is an important public health victory, there’s more to be done to end the production of this dangerous chemical and protect the health and well-being of communities near facilities that manufacture, process, and use the chemical.

“As we look ahead to EPA finalizing more protections from additional toxic chemicals, we will continue to work towards stronger protections for frontline communities living near chemical production and use sites,” Vogel said.

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