Methylene Chloride is a dangerous product that has previously caused the death of many people. Short term exposure to methylene chloryde can cause mental confusion, nausea, vomiting , headache and death in the worst cases. In the long term, workers exposed to it can develop cancer, nervous system problems, toxicity in their kidney, liver and reproductive system.Major retailers such as Lowes and Home Depot have removed it from their shelves even before the EPA finalized a ban proposal that was published one day before President Obama left office. In Europe the deadly chemical was pulled from general use in 2011.
Last May, Scott Pruit confirmed that the EPA was committed to finalize the proposed methylene chloride ban however last month the EPA drafted two new final rules that would ban the use of methylene chloryde to regular consumers but not to commercial operators. Two new final rules drafted by the EPA allow the usage of the dangerous product for commercial use as long as the workers using it have been trained. These rules that have not been made public yet but that have been sent by the EPA to the Office of Management and Budget have sparked the furor of public health advocates and and of congressional Democrats. This is a major step back compared to the proposed rule announced by the EPA during the Obama era.
Workers specialized in refinishing bathtubs are the most at risk of dying from Methylene Chloride exposure
The chemical product, used mostly as a paint stripper, is so dangerous that dozens of people, including many trained professionals died after using it. Since 1980 at least 64 people, many of them experienced workers specialized in refinishing bathtubs have died from methylene chloryde exposure in the US. In 2000 in Manhattan, a 39 year old bathtub refinisher died after being overcome by the vapors from a paint stripper that was at least 70% methylene chloride. 10 years later, in 2010 in Brooklyn, a 31 year old bathtub refinisher died while using a paint stripper on a bathtub for a job assignment. More recently, in 2014, 20 year old Jeffrey Lewis died while working with his dad on refinishing a hotel bathtub. (see Common solvent keeps killing workers, consumers)
Methylene Choryde is also widely used by the military and the Defense Department has been lobbying to obtain an extension for the commercial use of the product. Manufacturers of the product have also lobbied the EPA to not completely ban the product. In the meantime workers and consumers continue to die.
Read more in the Washington Post
Picture source: SaferChemicalOrg,com