Methylene chloride (MC) is a solvent which has killed many of those who have worked with the material in enclosed spaces or consumed it. According to National Memo, the Obama administration had proposed to ban MC.
Under the Trump administration, former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt withdrew the ban for further consideration.
Under pressure from both Congress and families who have lost family members because of MC, Pruitt committed to finalizing the ban last May.
Many retailers have decided to stop selling the product even before the ban had gone through, including Lowes, Home Depot, WalMart, Sherwin Williams, Home Hardware, and True Value.
In December, the EPA submitted a final Methylene Chloride rule to OMB for review. Yet, the same day the agency submitted another “Pre-rule” announcement to OMB- “Methylene Chloride; Commercial Paint and Coating Removal Training, Certification and Limited Access Program.”
The Environmental Defense Fund has deduced that the EPA is going to ban MC for consumer use, as stated in the final rule, but start the regulatory process again for “commercial use.” This would affect workers. Instead of a ban, they will propose a work training and certification program.
Both the Environmental Defense Fund and the families of those who have died from Methylene Chloride are not pleased. This is only a half-step forward to getting MC off the shelves.
Although major retailers have removed MC from their stores, the EPA will not protect workers.
Lindsey McCormick, Project Manager at Environmental Defense Fund, said, “Instead, EPA will relegate any limits on commercial uses to a separate, nebulous and lengthy process it is only just starting, which will defer for years or even deny protection to those most at-risk: workers.”
Liz Hitchcock, Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, said, “While we are pleased that the EPA is following the lead of the eleven retailers who have committed to removing these products from store shelves nationwide, we are extremely disappointed by indications that the measure will not protect thousands of workers whose lives and health are in danger as they come into contact with methylene chloride on the job. EPA should do its job and protect all Americans from the dangers of methylene chloride.”
EDF has shown that certification programs are incredibly complicated and expensive to implement, as well as difficult to enforce.