Federal agency looks to restrict deadly paint removal chemical

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking to ban a chemical that is used in paint stripper due to it causing the death of dozens, causing heart attacks in some and asphyxiating others.

The chemical in question is methylene chloride and various public health officials have spoken out against it to the EPA. The chemical can be found in almost every paint remover product on the shelves of home improvement stores across the country.

The cans did not feature a warning to consumers up until last year. The warning now states that using the product in confined spaces can cause illness and even death. Small spaces include bathrooms, tanks, basements and crawl spaces.

Since 1980, there have been 50 deaths linked to accidental exposure to the chemical in the United States, according to a 2015 investigation by The Center for Public Integrity. Deaths from exposure to the chemical can be traced back to the 1940s, so the study believes 50 since 1980 is a low count.

The EPA has labeled the chemical as one that can cause "unreasonable risks" since it can be deadly, cause heart attacks, cause cancer and harm organs such as the lungs and kidneys.

The EPA does not want to prohibit the use of the chemical for specific national security uses and in the furniture industry. The agency said it needs more time to determine how to regulate the use of the chemical in the furniture industry.

The EPA estimates that some 1.3 million people use products that contain the chemical annually, with 30,000 of them coming on the job.

"There are many cases of people who have become ill or even died as a result of exposure to methylene chloride-containing paint removers," the EPA said. "Today's action, when finalized, will save lives and protect people from other serious health risks."

The European Union banned the sale of products that use the chemical eight years ago.

If you suffer an injury because of a dangerous chemical, an experienced products liability attorney can guide you through your design & manufacturing defects case.

Source: Center for Public Integrity, "EPA wants to restrict sometimes-deadly paint stripper chemical," Jamie Smith Hopkins, Jan. 12, 2017

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