EPA Submits Proposed Rule Allowing Controlled Commercial Usage of Methylene Chloride to the US Office of Management and Business for Further Approval

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A proposed rule concerning methylene chloride, a lethal chemical which immediately kills after first contact, allowing the commercial usage of the chemical to be used in paint strippers, has been submitted to Trump White House by USEPA. This has caused considerable disappointment in public interests and advocacy groups which had forced United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to ban the chemical from commercial as well as consumer use two years ago.

The chemical is used in paint strippers and is key component in many chemical products. Methylene chloride has killed more than 50 people in last couple of decades. According to SCHF, at least four deaths owing to exposure to the chemical have occurred since EPA’s proposed ban two years ago. The public interest groups had called for a joint action with both regulatory action and voluntary abandonment of the use of chemicals by retailers. Many leading retailers including Sherwin-Williams, Amazon, Walmart and Lowes have pledged their intention to remove products containing the chemical from their shelves.

Public interest groups like Environmental Defense Fund, Healthy Families, Natural Resources Defense Council and safer chemical and EWG had called for total ban on both commercial and consumer uses of paint strippers that use the deadly chemical as an ingredient. The USEPA’s rule to ban the chemical came as blow to the chemical industry.

The USEPA has recently sent its revised proposal to White House Office of Management and Business rewriting the rule to allow continued and controlled usage of the chemical in industrial processes on a commercial scale with provisions for training and certifications for the workers. This rule claims the concerned groups still poses a great risk to the workers. The exact details are not yet revealed but it seems that it would ban consumer usage and allow commercial scale usage.

EWG’s representative attorney Melany Benesh said that the proposed rule is an effort by the chemical industry to push back on efforts to ensure safety of workers handling the chemical. And alleged that the Trump White House has kowtowed to pressure from the influential lobby of chemical industry. She further said that the proposal has compromised the lives of millions of workers which requires them to handle the deadly chemical, and this may expose them to serious injury or death.

The rule has monumental significance in worker’s health and safety regulation as it is first such proposed rule in last 30 years under section 6 of Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. USEPA’s submission to Trump White house will kick start an interagency review mechanism and will make the proposed rule one step closer to have full legal status.

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