Today, Walmart announced that it will stop selling paint strippers containing methylene chloride or N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) by February 2019 – making it the first general merchandise retailer to take such action. Walmart’s announcement follows the strong leadership demonstrated by Lowes, Home Depot, and Sherwin Williams, all of which have committed not to sell methylene chloride- and NMP-based paint stripping products by the end of the year. Importantly, Walmart’s action goes beyond its U.S. stores, including those in Mexico, Canada, and Central America, as well as its online store.
These retail actions demonstrate a desire to better protect consumers across the country from dangerous paint strippers. Methylene chloride is highly neurotoxic and acutely lethal. The chemical is responsible for over 50 reported deaths from acute exposure over the last 35 years – though many more likely have gone unreported. NMP is linked to fetal development problems, including low birth weight and birth defects.
EDF has advocated for several years for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban both methylene chloride- and NMP-based paint strippers, using its enhanced authority under the reformed Toxic Substance Control Act. Over 18 months ago, EPA proposed to ban methylene chloride and restrict NMP in paint strippers, but action stalled under the Trump Administration. For over a year, the agency made no effort to finalize these actions – even taking steps to delay any progress.
While EPA drags its feet, retailers across the nation are stepping up. They recognize that pushing for safer products on store shelves is good for strengthening consumer trust and for showing investors what progressive chemicals management looks like.
Methylene chloride: https://www.edf.org/health/banning-methylene-chloride-paint-strippers.
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