Paint Stripper Responsible for More Deaths as EPA Fails to Ban Methylene Chloride


If you need another reason why Scott Pruitt should be removed from his position at the EPA, just look at the recent news about some paint strippers that contain a deadly chemical called methylene chloride.

Methylene chloride can kill within minutes and long-term exposure has been linked to liver cancer and lung cancer. Over 60 families have lost loved ones because of this chemical. In the last days of the Obama administration, the EPA proposed banning methylene chloride, but after Scott Pruitt took over at the EPA, the agency reversed course and pulled back from that position. Now apparently, it plans to lightly regulate the chemical instead of banning it.

Meanwhile, unsuspecting consumers are dying after buying and using paint strippers. The solvent in the paint strippers, methylene chloride, can cause heart attacks and turn to carbon monoxide in the body. It is supposed to be used with a respirator and special gloves, but even these precautions did not protect Drew Wynne, a 31-year-old from South Carolina who died last October after being overcome by fumes while refinishing a floor. He is not alone. Since 1980 more than 50 accidental deaths have been linked to methylene chloride exposure.

Finally, after hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions asking home improvement stores to remove the deadly paint strippers, Lowe’s recently announced that they will voluntarily remove all products containing methylene chloride by the end of 2018. Home Depot has not yet followed suit, unfortunately.

But this underscores an even wider problem: consumers are now having to rely on big business to protect then when the EPA–which is funded and staffed expressly for this purpose–will not. And the blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of the Trump administration and the leadership of polluter advocate, Scott Pruitt.

It is unbelievable that a product that can kill you within minutes is still sold at home improvement stores. It is more unbelievable when you consider that, while Scott Pruitt’s EPA knew of the dangers and refused to act to protect people, four more families lost loved ones because of these toxic products.

Nancy Beck, a top deputy in the EPA’s toxic chemical unit, responded to this tragic situation by appearing to blame the victims, saying that perhaps people weren’t following the directions on the labels. No, Nancy, perhaps your agency wasn’t following its directive to protect the American people from toxic and deadly chemicals.

It is time to do your job or step down. The bereaved families deserve at least that much.

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