Lowe’s to Stop Selling Deadly Paint Strippers

But the EPA has yet to take any action on the dangerous chemical methylene chloride.

But the EPA has yet to take any action on the dangerous chemical methylene chloride.

Home-improvement giant Lowe’s announced today that it would stop selling paint strippers containing the toxic chemical methylene chloride. The company said it also plans to stop selling items containing N-methylpyrrolidone, another toxic solvent.

Public health organizations, including NRDC, had pushed for the ban of methylene chloride–based paint strippers, as the chemical has been linked to multiple deaths. Its fumes can cause liver toxicity, cancer, and harm to the nervous system—they can even trigger fatal heart attacks. More than 200,000 consumers petitioned for the ban, and advocates in 12 states also gathered outside Lowe’s stores to pressure the company to remove them from their shelves.

“Lowe's is acting to save lives by pulling these products from the shelf. Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shirked action and catered to the chemical industry," says Sujatha Jahagirdar, policy specialist at NRDC, referring to the EPA's indefinite delay of an Obama-era ban on the use of methylene chloride in paint strippers. "Lowe's is showing leadership as the first major U.S. retailer to eliminate methylene chloride paint strippers from its stores. It underscores the failure of this EPA to do its job to protect the American public from dangerous toxic chemicals. Home Depot, Walmart, Amazon, and other companies should follow Lowe’s lead, and the EPA should immediately issue a comprehensive ban on deadly chemicals in paint strippers to keep consumers safe.”

The Obama-era EPA's proposed a ban on the use of methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone in paint strippers had been expected to be finalized this year. For more than 16 months, the Pruitt's EPA refused to push this through—and during that time, at least four known deaths have been linked to methylene chloride–based paint strippers. After meeting with victims’ families last month, Pruitt said a ruling on methylene chloride was coming shortly, though there still has been no official action taken.

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