Lowe's Becomes First Retailer to Pull Deadly Paint Strippers from Shelves

Promises, but No Action from EPA on Dangerous Methylene Chloride

Lowe's announced its home improvement stores would remove deadly paint strippers made with methylene chloride. Paint strippers made with the toxic solvent NMP will also be banned from Lowe’s stores.

The following is a reaction from Sujatha Bergen, Policy Specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

“Lowe's is acting to save lives by pulling these products from the shelf. Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt’s EPA has shirked action and catered to the chemical industry instead of facing up to this public health issue.

“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.”

Earlier this year, news outlets reported the tragic deaths of unsuspecting consumers, who were overcome by toxic fumes from the products sold at Lowe's and other retailers, including Home Depot. NRDC and coalition partners gathered more than 200,000 signatures from consumers urging Lowe's to ban the methylene chloride-based paint strippers, and advocates in 12 states protested outside Lowe’s stores in May.

For more than 16 months, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has refused to finalize an Obama-era proposal to ban paint-stripping products made with methylene chloride or NMP. During that time, at least four known deaths have been linked to methylene chloride in paint strippers. After meeting with victims’ families last month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the agency will send a final rule on methylene chloride to the Office of Management and Budget for review “shortly.” However, it remains unclear what, if anything, the EPA will do, and whether it will weaken the proposed ban’s provisions.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​