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EPA Takes Aim at Chemicals in Paint Remover

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

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The U.S. government is considering stricter guidelines for two toxic chemicals often found in paint removal products.

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing bans or restrictions on the use of methylene chloride (dichloromethane) and n-methylpyrrolidone, the agency announced Thursday (Jan. 12).

The dangers with regard to methylene chloride include death (due to asphyxiation), liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and certain cancers, the agency says.

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Bridge repair and repainting, in addition to marine craft refinishing and repair, are specific sectors put on notice under the proposed rules.

“Some of these health effects result from a very short, acute exposure; others follow years of occupational exposure,” EPA notes.

For NMP, the EPA says health effects include developmental toxicity (e.g., fetal death or decreased infant birth weight), neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, liver and kidney toxicity and reproductive toxicity.

Proposed Restrictions

The 277-page proposal regarding the chemicals calls for a prohibition on the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution of these chemicals in commerce.

The agency also wants to restrict the sale of small-volume products and require companies to notify retailers and others in the supply chain regarding such prohibitions, the document notes.

For each of these chemicals, EPA says, it has identified risks of concern associated with their use in the following specified sectors:

  • Painting and decorating;
  • Floor refinishing;
  • Automotive refinishing;
  • Civilian aircraft refinishing;
  • Graffiti removal;
  • Renovations and contracting;
  • Bridge repair and repainting; and
  • Marine craft refinishing and repair.

One exemption is the chemicals usage in commercial furniture refinishing; the proposal doesn’t cover that application at this time, EPA says.

Two Approaches for NMP

Chemical Watch (subscription) outlined the two approaches presented in the proposal with regard to the solvent NMP.

“The first calls for a prohibition on the manufacture, processing and distribution of NMP in paint stripping, with downstream user notification requirements,” the report said.

“The second would instead put in place a set of restrictions to address the risks the substance poses, including: limiting the amount of NMP used in paint remover products; consumer warning labels; and workplace personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements.”

Public Comment Period

A 90-day comment period will be open from the date the proposals are published in the Federal Register.

The EPA also published proposed rules Friday (Jan. 13) that aim to clarify how it will evaluate chemicals that may pose health and environmental risks under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which updates the Toxic Substances Control Act.


Tagged categories: Chemical stripping; Contractors; Health & Safety; North America; Paint Removal; Painters; Renovation; Surface preparation

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